The suspect, who authorities did not identify in the preliminary report, was until recently a salesman at Lampson Tractor in San Jose, Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Ray Lunny said in a telephone interview.
According to the resident's account, she told deputies that she bought the original tractor, a 2010 Kubota L3700 valued at $26,000, from the salesman and contacted him again after realizing that the L3700 was too small for her needs.
The salesman returned on Sept. 1 and loaded the tractor onto a truck with a promise to sell it on consignment back at the San Jose dealership, deputies said. But the tractor never turned up at the dealership and the suspect has disappeared, Lt. Lunny said.
The dealership informed deputies that the salesman is now suspected of 14 other such incidents involving vehicle theft, though it was not clear that every incident involved a tractor or that all the vehicles involved the Lampson dealership.
A representative from the dealership told the victim that the suspect "was conducting a business on the side and was stealing from customers and from Lampson," Lt. Lunny said.
The San Jose Police Department is also looking for the suspect, he added.