Albany Police Department arrests copper thieves

ALBANY -- The arrest of two men and a woman could solve at least 25 cases of metal theft in the city, an Albany Police Department detective said Wednesday.

More cases in which thieves damaged air conditioners to procure the copper wire could also be pinned on the trio, said police Detective Tim Harvey.

"We were able to piece some information through some leads given by citizens in reference to a rash of air conditioner thefts," Harvey said at a 2 p.m. press conference. "Due to our investigation, we were able to clear out multiple theft cases from multiple businesses and multiple residences within the past two years."

John Thomas, 19, Shamekia Jones, 26, and her husband Joshua Morris, 23, were arrested for the crimes, Harvey said, then noted that more arrest warrants will probably be issued on the trio.

Thomas was charged with theft by receiving stolen property and had no bail set Wednesday, while Morris and Jones were charged with criminal damage to property and also had no bail, a Dougherty County Jail spokeswoman said.

"With just the arrest of these three people, I believe we are going to see a dramatic drop in a/c (air conditioner) thefts," Harvey said.

Among the cases cleared by the arrest is the metal theft and more than $30,000 in damage to air conditioners at the Girls Incorporated and Boys & Girls Clubs center on Inverness Road off Don Cutler Sr. Drive.

Since 2008 there have been more than 275 air conditioner thefts, police statistics have shown.

When copper thieves strike, they can cause as much as $2,000 in damage just for the few dollars they'll get for recycling the copper in air conditioner units, Harvey said.

The price of copper Wednesday afternoon was about $2.30 a pound, a manager at Schnitzer Southeast, one of the area's major recycling companies, said.

"They (area recycling companies) are doing a lot better job than they have in the past with collecting names, ID and information on the people who are actually dropping the stuff off," Harvey said. "We can actually keep a trail of who dropped it off."