3 locals arrested for ‘junking’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three Opp men who were allegedly out “junking,” looking to make a quick buck instead found a quick way to jail Tuesday after being arrested for theft.

Wesley Lance Johnson, 27; Derek Keith Mitchell, 26; and David Blake Willia-mson, 24, are each facing one count of second-degree theft after the trio allegedly stole culverts that were lying on the side of the road.

Their alleged theft was discovered after a Cov-ington County Sheriff’s Office posse member called the sheriff’s office to report three men loading what appeared to be county road pipes in the Fleeta community.

Sgt. Waylon Griggs, who is assigned to Fleeta Jr. High School as a school resource officer, was the closest deputy the area. When he arrived on scene, he reportedly located a truck and four-wheeler traveling together. Griggs stopped the pickup, which was hauling a trailer loaded with two very large culverts. The four-wheeler fled the scene.

Sgt. Jeff Daniels and Sgt. Lamar Stokes responded to the scene and were able to obtain statements from witnesses. Stokes was also able to locate the driver of the four-wheeler, and all were transported to the sheriff’s office for questioning.

Each was later booked into the Covington County under a $10,000 bond. Of the three, Mitchell was the only person able to make bond. Johnson was wanted by more than one law enforcement agency and is currently being held on an arrest order issued from the District Court. Williamson was out on bond for a drug possession charge, and the district attorney’s office has filed a motion to revoke his bond on that charge.

Law enforcement has noted a significant increase in this type of theft-activity where people out “junking” or driving around the county and picking up metal on right-of-ways and private property.

“A lot of people that are ‘junking’ as it’s called are actually taking property that belongs to others,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson said.

“The sheriff’s office wants to remind people that if you pick up metal or other items on the right-of-way, you need to have written permission from the county engineer’s office or the appropriate agency. If you enter upon the property of another, the property owner should be with you or you should have written permission to do so – especially if you are picking up metal or any other type of property.

“If you are ‘junking,’ make sure you get permission,” he said. “If not, a quick buck can equal a quick arrest.”