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Thieves take the bait; $250,000 in property recovered

By Walter Geiger Operation Baited Hook, involving sheriff’s investigators from Lamar and Butts counties, busted up an alleged theft ring headquartered on Crawley Road off Morgan Dairy Road near Orchard Hill in Lamar County over the weekend. According to Capt. Jake Sutton, a search of the property turned up over $50,000 worth of items stolen in Lamar County, including $20,000 worth of items taken from the Morgan Dairy Road fire station on March 22. Butts sheriff Gary Long and his investigators were working and ongoing rash of thefts of campers, trailers, lawn equipment, ATVs and trucks and put out several bait vehicles. On Friday at 7 p.m., one of the bait trailers, equipped with two tracking devices, was stolen from Hwy. 36 and High Falls Road. It was tracked to the former Barnchasers property at 176 Crawley Rd. According to tax records, the three buildings there are now owned by William S. Booth of Zebulon. Four persons of interest have been identified. Two were arrested. They are Joseph Timothy Bradley, 44, and Robert Mitchell Jr., 48, both of the Crawley Road address. At least two more arrests are expected. (Monitor for details as they emerge.) LCFD equipment recovered included a Honda generator that had been repainted blue, air packs with masks, emergency lighting, an older Jaws of Life extrication device and a piece of equipment used to breach doors. Butts County’s trailer and a truck used to haul it were recovered in Spalding County. The truck had been stolen in Butts County as well. Two John Deere Gators stolen from SunSouth in Barnesville and valued at about $28,000 were recovered and returned to the dealership. A quantity of meth was located at the theft ring headquarters and drug charges will be leveled against some or all of those arrested at some point. At least one person on the scene was injecting meth, according to sheriff Brad White. Among the wide array of stolen items located was old medical equipment from the long-closed office of Dr. J.C. Howell, father of Mike Howell of Barnesville. Contacted Monday, Mike Howell said he was not sure where the items, which included his father’s medical bag, had been stored. Long, who valued the recovered items at over $250,000, thanked sheriff White and praised the cooperation between the two sheriff’s offices. ‘We worked jointly to stop and arrest those responsible for this theft ring which will reduce the number of thefts from citizens in this area,’ Long said. Persons who may have recently purchased items from Bradley or Mitchell are encouraged to contact either the BCSO at 770-775-8216 or the LCSO at 770-358-5159. The purchased items are likely stolen.

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