On Thursday, May 26, 2011 the Sumter County S.O. made 2 arrests in reference to an ongoing investigation into the theft of irrigation wire within the Sumter County area. Sumter County, as well as surrounding counties, have been experiencing the theft of wire from agricultural irrigation systems. The electrical wires have been targeted by thieves who in turn strip this wiring and take to scrap yards for their monetary value due to the increased value as metal prices continue to rise.
During this investigation, Ameri-Green Recycling located off of Mathews Drive in Americus Georgia, contacted Sumter County Investigators with information in regards to 2 subjects bringing in wire that was consistent with irrigation wire. Upon investigators identifying the wire, 2 suspects were taken into custody late in the evening of May 26, 2011. The two suspects arrested are identified as brothers, Jonathan Jerome Smith, and Allen O TMNeal Smith Jr., both of 113 North Village Dr., Americus Ga. Investigators subsequently recovered approximately 200 ft. of the stolen wire and also identified an irrigation system that had not yet been reported damaged within Sumter County. Located inside the four door sedan that was being used by the suspects were oxygen tanks utilized by cutting torches and several toolboxes with tools, and other cutting devices.
The investigation is continuing, and Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith hopes that this break in the case will lead to additional information in helping investigators with this widespread problem. Sheriff Smith extends his appreciation to Ameri-Green Recycling for contacting local law enforcement in regards to this case. Sheriff Smith also would like to appeal to the local community to report any unusual activity that may be noticed in the county, to certainly include the agricultural area as well. With the present drought conditions, a theft of this magnitude can effect a farmers livelihood, with an irrigation system being incapacitated for days, and costing the farmer thousands of dollars.