South Georgia artifact thieves video their own crimes

Published: Dec. 17, 2014 at 12:01 AM EST
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Rangers say artifact thieves are active in South Georgia.

Some of the thieves actually video themselves committing crimes and post the videos online.

The thieves video themselves digging up and  stealing the artifacts, to prove they are  genuine.  But law enforcement uses those same videos to convict them.

From the video "Rivers right over there. We get out boat in the water.  Come through the woods.  We're one of our dig sites."

This is actual video from You Tube posted by a man who pled guilty to artifact theft last week.

From the video "Look at that. That is fine.  Look at that. Wow.  Heat treated red. Worked down."

Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Corporal Greg Wade said "Artifacts bring a lot of money.  There is a lot of collectors.  If you make a video, of you remove the point from the dirt, that makes it more authentic.  It'll bring more money that way."

From the video "There's the arrowhead."

Wade said "Particularly Dougherty County has a lot of areas rich in artifacts. Rich in Indian Heritage.  So there is a lot of different areas like this, and a lot of different people doing the same thing."

From the video "Oh yea, that's a bead. My very first indian bead I've ever found in my life, right here."

Eddie Ballard pled guilty last week to 45 counts of artifact theft, and was sentenced to 3 years behind bars.   Prosecutors said some of the artifacts he stole are priceless because of their rarity.

From the video "It just don't get any better.  I was blessed today to find a cache like this.  Got 22 of them."

Wade said "Wildlife just like artifacts belong to everybody.  And you don't want people making profit off of either of them." State DNR Law Enforcement rangers say the stolen artifacts in South Georgia bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.  It's illegal, and the state is prosecuting.

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