MITCHELL CO., GA (WALB) - A Mitchell County deputy was called to the pecan orchard at the intersection of Highway 93 and County Line Road to check out the theft of pecans on Wednesday.
Eddie Godwin, a Pelham resident who made the complaint, was standing near his truck, and two men were kneeling on the ground, with their hands in the air. The deputy found a bag filled with pecans, a five gallon bucket and two 2-gallon pails filled with pecans.
Godwin Pecan Cleaner owner Tony Godwin says it's upsetting to see the product of years of hard work taken away from him. So he was determined to put a stop to it. "A lot of people think it's okay to go out and just help yourself to something that somebody's worked hard for."
He spotted two men trying to steal from his pecan grove. "We earn our living by trying to grow pecans. We have good years and we have some bad ones. But that's farming for you."
Godwin says it's a year round job, a passion for farming that runs in his family. So when someone called to tell him that two men were stealing from his pecan grove yesterday morning, he took action. "I was Johnny on the spot. I jumped in my truck and I didn't know what I was going to drive up on," said Godwin.
Mitchell county Sheriff's investigator Kevin Sellers says Godwin found Benjamin Davis and Larry Caldwell with a bag, a five gallon bucket, and two-two gallon pales filled with pecans. He was able to convince them to sit and wait until deputies arrived minutes later.
"It's fairly easy to grab these nuts and bring them to pecan buyers because they are so prevalent because now is harvest time and the buying points don't know where these nuts come from," Sellers said.
Godwin says the pecans range in price from 75 cents to as much as $3.00 a pound. "The people that tote them out of there hurt us because every pound we lose, we need that pound for the income we've invested. It's really expensive to grow pecans."
Godwin says they were able to recover close to $200 worth of pecans from Davis and Caldwell. They're both charged with criminal trespass and theft by taking.
Investigator Sellers says the law states the nuts belong to the owner of the tree, So while the nuts may be on the side of the road, they come from trees on someone's private property.