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Three charged in metal thefts

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Trying to cash in stolen steel railings paid off in arrests for two Albany men, an Albany Police Department report stated. Stolen copper wire sent a third man to jail after an unrelated arrest, it added.

Richard Bodiford Jr., 22, and James Bryant, 24, sit in Dougherty County Jail in lieu if $10,000 bond. Each is charged with theft by taking, a jail spokeswoman said.

"Officers arrested Bodiford and Bryant at Schnitzer Southeast recycling at 1301 E. Gordon Ave.," said police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks. "There was a long line and they were still there when we arrived."

The two men arrived at Schnitzer after loading up a brown Chevrolet Blazer with steel railings from Flint River Services, said Robert James, manager at the temperature-controlled storage facility.

James knows because he followed them to Schnitzer after he received a call from a security guard at the facility next door to his.

"The security guard saw them stealing and called me. I followed them to Schnitzer. I called the manager at Schnitzer and he said to dial 911," James said. "There was a long line and the manager delayed them until Albany police and the (Dougherty County) sheriff got there."

Although the custom-made steel racks cost Flint River Services about $2,000 from the manufacturer, the price of steel is so low that they would not have brought much to thieves.

Steel as scrap was priced at a high of 11 cents a pound on Wednesday, said Rex Kiger, Schnitzer manager. A ton of the steel would bring $220 if purchased at the top rate.

The weight of the steel racks was not available, but they apparently weighed much less than a ton, those involved in the case said. A ton of steel is equivalent to the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle, the website cargurus reports.

In an unrelated second metal-theft case, copper wire could have paid off better.

Calvin White, 23, remains in jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He is charged with receiving about 1,000 pounds of copper wire probably stolen from Albany Electric at a construction site in Americus, the police report stated.

More arrests and charges are expected in the case, Banks said.

When White tried to sell the copper wire, an employee at Southeastern Aluminum Recycling at 122 N. Broadway St. called police, said H.D. Wiley, manager.

"We report every suspicious sale that we see," Wiley said. "The law doesn't say that we have to but we e-mail the information on every purchase we make to several police agencies."

If it were a legal sale, copper wire stripped of its insulation could bring about $3.30 a pound, or $3,300 for 1,000 pounds, Wiley said.

Police believe the copper wire White tried to sell to Southeastern Aluminum Recycling was either sold or given to him to sell, Banks said. Officers found additional wire at his home at 1114 W. Highland Ave., she added.

An Americus Police Department spokeswoman said her department had made no arrests in connection with wire stolen from the hospital construction site.

"We have had a lot of copper wire stolen from there (the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center construction site)," said the Americus police spokeswoman. "We have made no arrest so far."

The medical center was reported as planning to open in January 2011.

"This case is another example of recycling companies and the Albany Police Department working together," Banks said. "The manager of the business became suspicious of the individuals attempting to sell the copper wire. When he inquired about where the material came from, he did not believe their explanation and contacted police."