NORTH, SC (WIS) - Three men, including two volunteer firefighters have been arrested in connection with recent copper thefts in Orangeburg County.
Chief Mark P. Fallaw of the North Police Department announced Friday that the North Police Department, the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office and the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office this week arrested Jeffrey McQueen Riley, Jr., 21, Johnathon Ryan Carter, 24 and Daniel Addison Carter, 17, all of Ridgeville, SC.
Fallaw said Riley and Ryan Carter were volunteer firemen with the Ridgeville Volunteer Fire Department and that the trio used bolt cutters from the fire department to cut the fence and obtain the wire.
In the early morning hours of January 2, 2011, the SCE&G facility on Savannah Highway in North fell victim to damage and copper theft. Shortly after, the Aiken Electric Cooperative on North Road, just outside of North, suffered similar damage and theft.
Thanks to a call concerning suspicious activity, deputies with the OCSO passed a vehicle matching the caller's description near the Aiken facility. When deputies turned around to investigate, the vehicle's lights had been turned off, it turned into a field and the perpetrators fled on foot, according to Fallaw. The evidence at the scene of both incidents as well as in the vehicle, led investigators to Dorchester County.
Riley, who owned the vehicle, later attempted to report it stolen in Dorchester county, according to police.
Based on the investigation, officers linked the three to copper thefts in Dorchester, Orangeburg, Bamberg, Barnwell, Charleston, Aiken and Calhoun counties. Investigators have notified agencies in the other counties of the thefts. Officials say monetary losses for the thefts total nearly $40k.
After bond hearings on Thursday and Friday, both Carters are being held at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center on a $20k bond each. That amount was posted by a bonding company after the hearings, however, the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office placed a hold on both individuals before they could be released.
Riley remains in the Dorchester County Detention Center on charges of Filing a False Police Report. Should Riley make bond, he will be transferred to OCRDC to face charges from the North PD and the OCSO.
Fallaw encourages anyone who has been a victim of theft or any other crime to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to report the crime. If you have knowledge about such crimes, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIMESC.