Copper theft spree solved? Three suspects in custody

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, July 29, 2010

A month-long investigation by Greenville Police Department has yielded three arrests, said Lt. Justin Lovvorn.

Adrian Burnett, 29, and Demetrius “Meatball” Powell, 20, were arrested and charged with burglary 3rd and theft of property 2nd.

Michael Butler, 22, was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property.

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Lovvorn said while he believes Butler acted alone, Burnett and Powell might have collaborated on as many as six thefts across the county.

“We have six burglaries pending, but they haven’t been charged with these burglaries yet,” Lovvorn said. “But there is a good chance these two will end up with more charges.”

For the past month, Lovvorn said he and Capt. Randall Courtney have been working closely together to address the growing problems of thefts. Since the arrest of Burnett and Powell, no more copper thefts have been reported, Lovvorn said.

“We came together and pooled all the burglaries that were similar in nature,” Lovvorn said. “We wanted to put all our efforts into solving these crimes and putting a stop to this trend that has been becoming rather popular lately.”

Butler, who Lovvorn believes might have committed a majority of his crimes in Crenshaw County, was arrested after a recycling business refused to buy fiber optic cable from him.

“The recycling business said that after they said the cable was of no use to them Butler left, throwing the cable in the ditch as he passed,” Lovvorn said.

The cable was recovered and traced back to a major theft that had occurred at a storage center owned by Camellia Communications.

“This isn’t enough evidence to prove he stole it, necessarily, but he was in possession of the exact wire that was stolen, which makes a strong case for the theft as well,” Lovvorn said. “That charge may be coming.”

Though the progress is encouraging, Lovvorn said he doesn’t want citizens to stop reporting any suspicious activity.

Also, as a warning to those who intend to try to sell stolen wire to recycling businesses, Lovvorn said previous gaps with record keeping have been addressed.

“We now have a good understanding between us and these businesses, and they know that if they violate these laws form this point forward, there will be severe consequences,” he said.