Local investigators help bust burglary ring, recover $17K in stolen copper

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2014


More than $17K worth of copper pipe and wire has been recovered by the Sheriff’s Office. — Shelby Farmer

Friday morning, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested four men suspected of involvement with a commercial burglary ring and recovered an estimated $17,300 worth of stolen copper wire and pipe in Attapulgus.

Escambia County, Fla., “investigators believe these suspects have been responsible for further burglaries across the Southeast,” according an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office new release.

The joint-effort bust began that morning when Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to multiple commercial burglaries and attempted burglaries, which included a stolen commercial moving truck.

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In one of the burglarized businesses, the thieves cut through an outer wall in order to pass the materials to the outside that was then loaded on the truck and taken to Decatur County, said Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Redell Walton.

The arrested suspects included Bainbridge residents Victor Lamar Bodison, 36 and Damarkus Larrell Mathis, 26. The other two suspects were Orlando residents Derrick Wilson Hill, 35, and Derrick Joseph Reaves, 24. Each was charged with theft by bringing stolen property into the state.

The stolen commercial moving truck had a GPS unit, which enabled Escambia County, Fla., law enforcement to track it. They were able to identify a residence in Attapulgus where the truck stopped before returning to Florida. Upon searching the area, Decatur County officers recovered the wire and pipe and located the suspects in a vehicle at the residence, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Cheryl Roberts said.

In a vehicle, investigators also found navigation systems, tools that matched the description of what was used in the Pensacola burglary as well as locks that matched what had been cut off at the Pensacola store, Roberts said.

Copper wire and pipe such as what was recovered is likely used for construction, Roberts said.

Copper theft has been what some describe as an “epidemic” in the United States in recent years.

According to the a report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were over 30,000 insurance claims for the theft of copper made Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2012. The report ranked Georgia at No. 3 for most metal theft claims with almost 2,000 claims in 2010 — 2012.