Morgan -- A huge, multi-county heavy equipment theft ring has been uncovered, and a Calhoun County man is in jail.
Authorities recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen machinery ranging from bulldozers to logging trailers. They expect to find more stolen equipment and more suspects.
A lot of heavy machinery equipment in Calhoun County looks like an average construction yard. But the bulldozers, loaders, logging trailers, and thousands of dollars in heavy equipment here were all stolen; seized in an on-going multi-county theft investigation.
"The sheriff out of Putnam County gave me a call and came to visit me about a suspect from his area that was now living in our area. That was back in February," said Calhoun County Sheriff Jim Camp.
Working off that lead, Sheriff Camp took aerial photographs of unused equipment in the area which might have been stolen in a string of heavy equipment thefts.
Camp said, "Because there was so much equipment that had been taken over the last several months from Milledgeville on down, we had a meeting in Macon of all the local sheriffs, and one of the sheriffs identified the picture of a trailer that I had taken."
The stolen equipment led investigators to 52-year old Vernon Red Walker. Police say a stolen trailer from a Milledgeville construction company he had previously worked for led to his arrest.
Walker was convicted of murder in 1977. Most recently, he worked for Cheney Logging in Calhoun County.
Camp says that Walker was likely trying to sell some of the seized equipment.
"This was an investigation that turned Walker up as a suspect and a former employee of a company which began all of this," said Camp.
The investigation soon led to the discovery of more stolen equipment in Calhoun County from as far north as Jasper County to as close by as Randolph County.
According to Sheriff Camp, the investigation into this heavy equipment theft began last February. Camp also said that there are likely more suspects involved this case.
He said, "I'm sure there are more suspects. No names right now, but there's bound to be more suspects."
And while there are more suspects, police think there is also more stolen equipment out there that hasn't even been found.
If you have any information about this case, you are asked to call the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office at 229-849-2555.