Deputies recovered a landscaping truck and stolen equipment valued over $150,000 off in a rural part of Cheatham County in late April.
What Shawn McNeal and Amanda Wright didn’t know at the time of the alleged theft was that the truck was equipped with a GPS, which led deputies right to them.
When investigators arrived at the home, the couple, who were ultimately charged with theft, was found inside the stolen vehicle.
News 2 acquired body camera footage of that arrest. Cheatham County Deputy Will Johnson was first on the scene.
Corp. Johnson asked the woman, who exits the vehicle, “What’s going on with the truck?”
The truck, which belongs to Old South Landscaping in Nashville, is filled with law equipment. The cab is in disarray.
The woman, who approaches the deputy, is later identified as Amanda Wright. Initially, the 28-year-old gives the deputy the fake name “Dusty Paynter.”
Officials identified the man in the truck is Shawn McNeal, whose criminal history dates back to the late 90s and includes an assortment of crimes like theft and drugs charges.
The deputy takes his ID and then handcuff the 42-year-old man.
“You’re just being detained until I find out what is going on,” the deputy said.
Once both suspects are secured and the deputy has made sure there is no one else in the truck, Johnson explained to them that the truck and all of the contents in it were reported stolen out of Nashville.
“So what’s going on?” Johnson asked the suspects. “This truck is reported stolen out of Metro.”
Amanda Wright’s face dropped as she exclaimed, “It has nothing to do with us. I’m just sitting in it because my house is locked — and I can’t get in it right now.”
The deputy repeats his question.
“I don’t know. I live down here,” Wright responded. “I’ve been at the hospital…I just had surgery four days ago.”
Later in the search, the deputy finds a needle and close to $3,000 in cash that he seizes as evidence.
McNeal protests, saying he worked hard for that money, and implores the deputy to call his boss.
To which the deputy said, “All the stuff they are saying is stolen — for all I know, you all stole the stuff, sold it, and this is the money from it. So I am going to seize the money. I’m going to log this as evidence. and it is going to be up to you to prove to the courts how you came about this money.”
According to Jason Underwood, landscaping maintenance manager for Old South Landscaping Company, the company was happy to get the truck back. However, he says close to $75,000 worth of expensive mowers, blowers and other equipment is still missing.
Underwood said there’s no reason the company truck should have been in the Cheatham County area where it was found.
“No, not back in that holler,” Underwood said. “Not at all.”
Underwood said the theft severely affected their operations.
“We had 40-plus people standing around looking for something to do without the equipment to do it,” he explained. “So it was a tough morning –had to send everyone home for the better part of the day.”
Both Wright and McNeal are charged with theft over $60,000 and possession of drug paraphernalia.