Officials crack down on archaeological poachers in Marion County

Items taken from parks that fall into legal limbo

OCALA, Fla. - Marion County officials can't catch a thief, and this one's not stealing diamonds, but historical artifacts from county parks - a legal loophole that's leaving officials scratching their heads.

The Star-Banner reports that the County Commission is debating whether to create an ordinance that would outlaw the unauthorized removal of historical artifacts from county parks.

But as of now Marion is powerless to prevent people from unearthing pieces of the past and keeping it for themselves.

State law forbid the act on state lands. The city of Ocala forbids in city-owned land. There is currently nothing in place for the roughly 40 parks and recreation sites that fall into a legal limbo.

According to county documents, a state game warden caught several people "stealing" artifacts from Horseshoe Lake Park in Orange Springs on March 4.

"We don't want a loophole," said Gina Peebles, the county parks director. "We're just trying to make sure everything is where it needs to be."

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