Chump change theft leaves huge debt -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Chump change theft leaves huge debt

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   More South Georgia farmers discover their irrigation equipment has been damaged by copper thieves. It's not just a rural problem. Albany Police say metal thieves continue to strip air conditioning units.

Two air conditioners stripped of copper tubing were reported to Albany Police. That's common. In Dougherty County the Jones Brothers found three of their irrigation pivots stripped of its copper wire.

They say it will cost at least $12,000 to repair. They know because this isn't the first time they've been hit by metal thieves.

Stacey Jones has to take time out from his cotton harvest when he discovered three huge irrigation pivots stripped of 3,200 feet of copper wire. He admits he is mad, because this is the second year in a row he has been targeted.

"What they done, they just cut the wire at the tower, take a four wheeler and snatched the wire off the top of the pivot," Jones said.

Police suspect two Dougherty County men arrested Friday in Tifton trying to sell thousands of pounds of stolen copper wiring stripped the Jones pivot, as well as many others in Dougherty and Calhoun Counties.

"That's not uncommon. When you have pivot systems stripped like this, that's not a one time shot for people who do that type stuff. You've got to have a special knowledge to do it," said Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek.

For Jones it's a costly crime, costing harvest time, his insurance company dropping him because of the thefts, and peace of mind.

 "Maybe getting $200 to $250 worth of wire out of it, and probably cost ten to twelve thousand dollars to put the wire back on the pivot," Jones said

Back in the city, Albany Police say air conditioning units being stripped for metal tubing is an almost daily occurrence. Investigators say the best thing to do is protect your unit with paint or an alarm.

Detective Tim Harvey suggests alarm systems or clearly marking your property with paint.

Jones says farmers are asking South Georgians to help protect their irrigation equipment by calling law enforcement if they see anyone suspicious around irrigation equipment.

 "We are going to have to take a community to do it. People helping one another out. If I saw somebody breaking into somebody's house, I would help them out. I wouldn't just stand there and let them do it."

Jones said the harvest of this cotton field will have to wait until he gets this pivot rewired, so they can move it. Another cost of metal theft.

Police expect to hear from more farmers who will find their irrigation equipment damaged by copper wire thefts. Farmers are not using the pivots now because it's harvest time.

Dougherty County Police say this is only the sixth case of metal theft in their jurisdiction in three months. Albany Police say they have not seen an increase in the number of metal thefts, but it is a continuing crime issue.


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