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Metal theft suspect sought

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Metal theft continues to be a huge problem in Dougherty County.

Sheriff's Investigators are asking your help to find a man suspected of being a part of a metal theft ring that did more $120,000 in damage to a closed East Albany plant last month.

Sheriff's Investigators have been patrolling the old Viking Distillery Plant on East Broad Avenue in recent months, because it has been the repeated target of metal thieves.

In recent weeks Investigators arrested three suspects, and now are looking for a fourth man they say was involved in the destructive thefts.

This is the man Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators want your help finding, 37 year old Samuel Bryant. They have taken arrest warrants for theft by taking and criminal damage against him.

This is some of the damage done to the expensive copper tanks inside the old Viking Distillery plant. They used heavy duty metal snips to cut out huge sheets of copper, ruining the tanks.

Captain Craig Dodd said "Sheet copper like this, that comes from these tanks, is thick, very strong sheet copper. With what is referred to tig welds in it, which makes it completely sealed."

Investigators say Ashlie Knighton tried to sell some of the copper to an metal recycler, who called the Sheriff's Office. Deborah Davis and Michael Walden were also arrested as part of the destructive metal theft gang. They got less than $5000 for the copper, but the tanks they destroyed were worth about $120,000. Metal theft is a big crime issue that law enforcement is taking very seriously.

Dodd said "It is a daily problem. And it's not going away. We're having to stay on it. All three law enforcement agencies here are working on it diligently. Trying to keep it in check. But there are so many people involved in it, and so many locations that can be hit, it's extremely difficult."

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators say they need your help finding Samuel Bryant for this metal theft. If you have any information, call the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office at 431-3222 or CRIME STOPPERS at 436-TIPS.

Sheriff's Investigators say you can help them fight the metal thefts, anytime you see suspicious persons in vacant buildings or taking apart electronic equipment, call 9-1-1 and report them.

The Viking Distillery is now owned by a Brazilian businessman who was going to move those copper tanks to his country, and use them to make bio-fuels.  But now they are useless because of the metal thefts.

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