Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Jonesboro police Chief Franklin Allen handles copper wiring stolen Monday from a vacant Ingles grocery store on Ga. 138. Police arrested two men allegedly caught in the act of the theft.
Two Jonesboro men were arrested Monday after a daring daytime theft of copper from a vacant grocery store, said police.
Jonesboro police Chief Franklin Allen said the arrests were the culmination of a joint effort by his department, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and Clayton County Police Department.
Jason Brant Lowry, 35, and Bryan Lee Graves, 26, are charged with theft by taking. They made their first appearance in Clayton Magistrate Court Tuesday afternoon. Magistrate Richard Brown set a $25,000 bond for Graves but denied bond for Lowry because he’s on felony probation. They are being held in the Clayton County Jail.
Allen said police got a call about 10:55 a.m. Monday about a suspicious car behind the former Ingles grocery store on Ga. 138. A lookout for the car was given and located by a Clayton County police officer, said Allen.
“He attempted a traffic stop and when he activated his lights, the car pulled into a tire business on Tara Boulevard,” said Allen. “But when the car stopped, both occupants fled, with the driver going one way and the passenger going another.”
Police and sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter around a thick patch of woods and began a search for the pair, he said. About 45 minutes later, one suspect was found taking a shower inside a vacant home and the second was found inside another home occupied with several people.
Officers returned to the car, a maroon 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, and found one industrial sized air conditioning coil in the backseat and copper wiring in the trunk. Back at Ingles, police discovered four additional coils on the ground. Allen said he suspects the two planned to return for the rest.
The theft is just the latest in what has become a nationwide epidemic of copper and scrap-metal thefts. Allen said scrap metal is such an easy target because it is virtually untraceable.
“We know one of the suspects has sold scrap metal to a place in Morrow and we will be checking with that company to see if we can link him to any other copper or scrap-metal thefts,” said Allen.
The wiring found in the trunk is pure copper, said Allen.
It isn’t just the thefts that create issues for property owners but the damage thieves do in order to get to the copper.
“It’s hard to put a dollar amount on the value of the copper but the amount of the damage caused to get to the copper easily exceeds $60,000,” he said.
When he set bond for Graves, Brown specifically addressed the damage incurred by the theft.
“I’m setting your bond at $25,000 because of the alleged property that was damaged and the dollar amount of that damage,” said Brown.
Allen said the arrests show what cooperating agencies can accomplish.
“This is a great example of when three agencies coordinate and work together, what can be accomplished,” he said. “We not only solved a crime and apprehended two suspects but we possibly prevented further thefts of copper.”