Waycross men charged in string of copper wire thefts - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Waycross men charged in string of copper wire thefts

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) –Two South Georgia men are charged in a string of copper wire thefts, costing several farmers in our area thousands of dollars in repairs. Investigators believe the thieves are responsible for stealing copper wiring from nearly fifty pivot irrigation systems all around Georgia.

Wayne Sayer says his pivot irrigation systems mean everything in a successful crop. "That's about the only way you can survive farming out here in this day and time with irrigation," he said.

He owns 70 pivot irrigation systems throughout Ben Hill and Irwin Counties, but recently found out three of his systems were targeted for copper wire by thieves. "We work to try and have something and someone comes along and takes it from you know it don't make you feel too good," he said.

Investigators say Sayer is not alone, in fact they've been investigating similar cases for months. "We got word from several neighboring counties they were experiencing similar problems, pivot irrigation systems targeted for the wire," said Ben Hill County investigator Patrick Hogan.

Towards the end of December, investigators got a big break in the case. 51-year old Joseph Hattaway, and 50-year old David King, both from Waycross, were arrested in Appling county as they were selling the wire to a recycling company,

After conducting interviews with the men, Investigators discovered the duo were tied to something much bigger. "They are being investigated for approximately 50 different irrigation systems in about 8 different counties," said Hogan.

Hitting systems in Ben Hill, Irwin, Coffee, Appling, Berrien, Jeff Davis, Pierce, Telfair and Tift Counties for copper. "I hate it for the farmers and I hate for people to get in that frame of mind to take from other people, they need to be punished for it for sure," said Sayer.

The men scouted for locations in the day, and stole the wiring at night which caused farmers financial headaches, for a small profit. "It cost me $10 to 12,000 dollars out of my own pocket and they got probably 1,500 dollars out of all it, it don't make you feel too good," said Sayer.

Investigators say it is unusual the men traveled such a great distance to commit the crimes.

Unfortunately, Sayer says he was hit again last night when someone stole the wiring right out of the box before he even put it up.

Investigators think drugs may have been one of the major motives behind all the thefts.

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