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Metal thefts on rise
Arrests hint at growing trend

A theft late last month at a storage building in northeastern Forsyth is a brazen example of what authorities say is a growing trend.

James Eidson, 27, and William Brasington, 21, both of Dawsonville, were arrested Nov. 29 by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said the men were caught taking metal from a warehouse on Pea Ridge Road.

Eidson and Brasington have both been charged with burglary. Eidson faces an additional charge of possession of a synthetic narcotic.

Eidson is being held without bond at the Forsyth County Detention Center, a jail spokeswoman said, while Brasington was released Dec. 4 on a property bond.

Rob Hicks and his family have stored metal at the warehouse for more than 30 years. He said they’ve lost $200,00 to $250,000 worth of product over the past three years to thieves.

“We have put cameras up, they stole those,” Hicks said. “We had somebody living there, but they felt threatened so they left. We’ve put in extra locks and put gates up, but they tore the gates down. It’s unreal.”

Hicks, who said he closely monitors the warehouse, had gone to check on it Nov. 29. When he saw the suspects loading scrap metal into a truck, he called 911 and waited for authorities to arrive.

“It’s just scary when you can’t walk on your own property now without running up on somebody,” he said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Wilson said the arrests were two of about five made for the same type of crime over a two- to three-week period in November.

“Along with scrap metal and copper thievery being on the rise, there’s been an increase in thefts of catalytic converters,” said Wilson, adding that thieves are targeting vehicles that are high off the ground.

Wilson said the catalytic converters are sought for their metal, which is sold to scrap dealers.

He said authorities are trying to build relationships with local scrap metal dealers in an effort to curb the thefts.

“In the last three weeks on the north end of the county there have been two thefts of air conditioners from unoccupied homes,” Wilson said.

The units are stripped of their copper and metal, which are then sold to dealers.

Sheriff’s Lt. Col. Gene Moss said deputies have increased their patrols around abandoned subdivisions and isolated businesses.

“Obviously it’s paid off, because some of these arrests have come as a result of our stepped up patrols,” Moss said.

He said this time last year, aluminum thefts were prevalent.

Moss and Wilson agreed the crimes are related to the market and rise along with prices.

Compounding the problem is damage to a structure as a result of theft. At times, the cost of repairs can exceed the value of the metal or copper that was taken, authorities said.