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Copper thieves admit stealing from Hampton homes

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Elaine Rackley

erackley@henryherald.com

A Jonesboro man and woman were caught in the act of stealing copper wires and pipes from vacant homes in Hampton, according to Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter.

Police arrested Jessica Danyial (Hunley) Greeson, 29, and Andrew Carl Evans, 22, and charged them with 10 counts of theft by taking, a felony. Police also charged Greeson with possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and possession of hydrocodone.

The duo appeared in Henry County Magistrate Court Thursday before Judge Robert Godwin, who set their bonds at $25,000 each. Judge Godwin reset their preliminary hearings, to allow detectives in Henry and Clayton counties to conclude their investigations of Greeson and Evans, according to Hampton Police Detective Art Sparks.

Greeson and Evans told police they stole copper wiring from homes in Clayton and Henry counties, said Detective Sparks. "Greeson is cooperating with Henry County Police," he added.

There were seven Hampton homes on Betsy Ross Trail allegedly damaged by the pair's thefts, according to Sparks. "The repair cost for each air conditioning unit is $2,500 per unit," he said.

The arrest of the suspected copper thieves began with patrol work by Hampton Police Officer William Paszkiewicz. He was patrolling in the Liberty Square subdivision because of three previous thefts of wire coils from central air conditioning units at vacant homes, said Sparks. "All three of the homes had been sold and had just been refurbished within the week," he said.

"[Hampton Detective Jeremy] Pirtle actually passed Evans [one of the suspects], walking down Highway 19/41, on the way to the scene," said Sparks. Pirtle immediately arrested Evans.

Officer Paszkiewicz observed a small car (identified as a red Toyota Corolla) in the driveway of 836 Betsy Ross Trail, according to Paszkiewicz in his police report. The officer watched as the driver turned off the headlights, but left the parking lights on. Afterwards, the driver got out of the car, then got back in the car.

"As I approached the vehicle, the driver quickly popped the hood of the vehicle and got out to look at the engine," Paszkiewicz said in his report. The officer asked to see the woman's driver's license, which had the name Jessica Hunley.

When questioned why she was at the vacant home, she initially told the officer her car was overheating, although the officer said in his report, "no smoke was coming from the engine compartment and there was plenty of coolant in the reservoir," wrote Paszkiewicz.

By this time, the officer said he noticed how nervous Hunley became, when she told him, "she was lost and was supposed to meet a man she met through a dating service," he added.

"She advised she was having an affair and didn't want her husband to know," continued the officer, who added that Hunley's story did not make sense.

After changing her story several times, the officer said, Hunley eventually

"stated she had been stealing copper from the vacant houses. I observed that the air conditioning units of 832 and 836 Betsy Ross had been damaged and that the copper piping had been cut from inside them.

"Also, inside 836 Betsy Ross, I observed visible damage from the wall where the copper piping from the air conditioning unit ran," continued Paszkiewicz.

Paszkiewicz arrested (Hunley) Greeson at 4:15 a.m., Wednesday at 836 Betsy Ross Trail, and called Hampton Officer Jason Hay, detectives Sparks and Pirtle to the scene. Pirtle and Sparks checked several recycling centers near Hampton, and according to Sparks, "located a recycling center where Evans had just sold five brand new copper heating coils from the air conditioning units.

"We had just missed him by 15 minutes," added Sparks.