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Two charged in copper theft at new school site
Search continues for other suspects
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Forsyth County News
Authorities have made two arrests and are looking for two additional suspects in connection with a burglary at the Lambert High School construction site in southern Forsyth County.
Lt. Col. Gene Moss of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said the incident occurred about 1:45 a.m. Thursday in a building under construction on the school's campus off Old Atlanta Road in south Forsyth.
Lambert, which is next to Sharon Elementary, is scheduled to open in 2009.
Jose Rivera, 35, of Lawrenceville was arrested and charged with burglary.
A jail representative said Friday afternoon that Rivera was being held at the Forsyth County Detention Center without bond.
An unidentified juvenile female was charged with a juvenile complaint of burglary. She was turned over to juvenile authorities.
Authorities discovered about 400 feet of 4-inch copper piping, estimated value of about $10,000, had been ripped out of the ceiling inside the building.
Moss said sheriff's Deputy Bobby Francis was on a routine patrol when he saw a 1997 gold Nissan Altima parked against the building. Francis then saw the woman run into the structure.
"He called for backup and while units started responding he began to investigate," Moss said.
Sheriff's Investigator Duane Piper said Francis heard what sounded like an electric saw cutting metal. As Francis entered the building, the woman and three men ran out.
"She was the lookout," Piper said.
He said as they left the building, one of the men, later identified as Rivera, dropped an electric saw on the ground.
Piper said the suspects had already stripped the insulation off about 200 feet of the copper and "were in the process of cutting it into 15-foot lengths to make it easier to transport" when the deputy arrived.
Piper said the piping was part of the school's main water line.
The suspects ran past Francis toward nearby woods, Piper said. Francis caught the juvenile, but the men got away. A short time later, a sheriff's dog found Rivera in the woods after tracking his scent.
Moss said it is rare in law enforcement to thwart a burglary in progress and that the arrests were the result of a "really good, proactive patrol by a deputy."
Authorities have asked that anyone with any information about the incident call (770) 781-2200. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (770) 888-7308.