Charged with theft of oil and gas equipment valued at around $20,000 and conspiracy to commit theft of same are Thomas Herman Gore (Brother), 40, Richard Wayne Giles, 36 and Gary A. Henson, 48, all of King Orchard Road. Late last week, sheriff's detectives Tommy Kemp, Jr. and Scott Tucker, along with deputies John Byrd and Kyle Greer made the arrests.
"We got a report about nine o'clock one night from a man who was maintaining some oil pumps in the Sarepta area. He went out and noticed the ground was scarred up," Kemp said. "He'd been in that business long enough to know that somebody had ripped the wire up out of the ground."
Kemp said the service man also noticed the scarring went from an electrical box on a pole about 200 feet across a field into the woods where the man found electrical wire on the ground.
"It's flexible electrical conduit covering three big wires about the size of my ring finger that were copper covered with rubber and then coated with lead," Kemp said.
Kemp and Tucker set up surveillance near King Orchard Road on the outskirts of Sarepta.
"We felt like we were looking for a local guy," he said.
Over the course of two weeks, the detectives checked the site, waiting for someone to pick up their stash of wire. Eventually, the wire was taken, he said, and they began door-to-door canvassing of the area.
"We knew at some point, people would start talking," he said. "We finally got a nickname – 'Brother.' So, we came back to the office, got on the computer and ran the nickname until we finally got a name that matched – Thomas Gore."
Gore was reportedly on paper with Probation and Parole and witnesses told the detectives he was not living at the address on file with the agency.
Along with Probation and Parole and Lt. Barry James, they traced Gore to a place identified as "the chicken house," but Gore was not there.
"Now that we had a name, we went up to this place in Springhill where we knew they buy scrap iron," Kemp said. "When I went through their receipts, I found several receipts for Gore for $300 to $400 where he was selling copper."
The officers took other receipts of local persons selling approximately the same quantity of copper to the business at around the same time Gore sold his copper.
Armed with names, the deputies found the residence with a burn pit in the backyard where the men – Gore, Giles and Henson – were burning the coating to get to the wire.
"There was a big heap of stuff in the middle of the burn pile which was lead," Kemp said. "They had been melting the lead and the coating off the wire."
Kemp said Henson lived at the residence.
"When we questioned him, we asked what he'd been burning," Kemp said. "Henson identified Giles and Gore as the ones who were burning wire."
Kemp said, at that point, they checked their receipts and found that Giles and Gore were selling wire just hours of each other.
"I encouraged Henson to get on his phone and find Giles and Gore," Kemp said. "At that point, we had Henson and we had the evidence."
The next day, Kemp said they learned Gore had been arrested in Caddo Parish on Webster's warrant.
"We arranged for transport to pick him up, so we could interview him," Kemp said. "Before we got him in the interview room good, we got word that Mr. Giles had been arrested in Sarepta by Webster deputies on our warrant. After we got those two in here and explained the definition of 'stealing,' Gore admitted he had taken the wire and gave up Henson as doing the same."
When they talked with Giles, Kemp said he also confessed.
"Giles thought that since it was an abandoned line, and didn't have any electricity going through it at the time they stole it, that it was okay to take it," Kemp said.
All three copper thieves are currently at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center, each with bonds totaling $100,000.