Sheriff’s office assists in copper theft, drug arrests

Published 9:12 am Monday, October 21, 2013

By Robbyn Brooks

The Messenger

Six arrested stemming from copper theft investigation

Six people have been arrested for theft and drug crimes as a result of weeks of investigations across multiple counties, stemming from September copper thefts in Pike County.

“It’s been a very tedious investigation, very time consuming,” said Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas at a news conference announcing the arrests on Wednesday. “Hundreds and hundreds of miles were traveled.”

Investigators even spent time lying in wait in wooded areas for surveillance after copper wire was stolen from the farms of Michael Sanders and Tom Finlay in Goshen.

As the end result, the following people were arrested.

Michael Eugene Allen, 44, of Goshen, was charged with first-degree theft of property, which was the theft of a power supply line to irrigation pivots belonging to Sanders. Further investigation also resulted in Allen being charged with third-degree burglary of a residence on Connell Road and second-degree property theft where two rolls of copper were taken from Finlay’s property.

Larry Douglas Davis, III, 23, of Brundidge, was charged with first-degree receiving stolen property and manufacturing methamphetamine as a result of the ongoing investigation that lead to a search warrant executed on Oct. 3 at Davis’ home. Davis is also charged with third-degree burglary in a crime in Spring Hill and third-degree burglary related to a residence on Connell Road.

Dezarae Lashay Wiggins, 23, also of the same address as Davis, was charged with first-degree receiving stolen property and manufacturing methamphetamine as a result of the search warrant. Like Davis, she is also charged with third-degree burglary in the Spring Hill crime and third-degree burglary for the incident on Connell Road. In addition, Wiggins is charged with failure to appear, driving with licensed revoked and three counts of negotiating with worthless checks.

Stolen property from Pike and Coffee counties was recovered at the Davis-Wiggins home, including a tanning bed, vacuum cleaner, wooden window, air conditioner, wicker chairs, Sony camcorder, wooden flower pots, antique plows, Yamaha organ, Vizio TV, baseball cards, a collectable Star Trek Enterprise replica and a Club Car golf cart.

Jonathan Noah Green, 29, of Banks, was charged with second-degree theft of property at the Finlay residence where the two rolls of copper wire were taken.

Ladonna Bailey Paramore, 49, and Annette Stewart Watkins, 44, both of Troy, were charged with possession of methamphetamine after a search warrant was issued at their home on Pike County Lake Road on Oct. 9. Property was also recovered at that location, including a Sanyo 40-inch TV, Dell computer and monitor, X-Box 360 and Central Machinery grinder.

“We know what we have evidence for, but we don’t know everything they did,” Thomas said, noting that at least one other arrest was pending for a suspect who was a part of both the Sanders and Finlay thefts.

The arrests were a result of a multi-agency effort by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Troy Police Department, State Agriculture and Rural Crimes Unit, the District Attorney’s Office, Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office and ALFA.

Thomas shared that nabbing the alleged criminals took extra focus because several of them seem to be homeless.

“They didn’t sleep in the same place every night,” Thomas said. “They moved around.”

Thomas said investigators believe the people arrested were involved in thefts that fueled their drug habits, including ICE and methamphetamine.

“We know that this has gone on a period of months, over a possibility of three counties,” Thomas said.

Sanders said he was pleased arrests had been made in his case, which totaled between $15,000 and $20,000 in damage to one of his irrigation systems.

“It feels good to know they were caught,” Sanders said. “I hope everybody who has been part of it, I hope they get the maximum sentence.”

District Attorney Tom Anderson made it known on Wednesday that the DA’s office will do “everything in our power” to convict those arrested.

According to investigators, the amount of copper stolen at Sanders’ property only yielded about $780. That’s enough to purchase about 7 or 8 grams of meth, investigators said.

Finlay said the latest theft at his property wasn’t the first. However, he didn’t report the first thinking that law enforcement officers had bigger crimes to address.

“A rat’s going to go back to the cheese, again,” Finlay said of the second theft on his property. “Nothing happens until somebody makes it happen. This hurts all of us and it costs us all,” he said, encouraging others to watch out for themselves and their neighbors.

“We encourage rural property owners to be on the lookout for your neighbors,” added Debra Davis with the Alabama Farmer’s Federation. “You might see something that is the key [law enforcement] is looking for.”