COVINGTON - An alleged copper thief was reportedly caught in the act by a Covington Police Department officer Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly after 5 p.m., Officer Brent Fuesting received a tip from a fellow officer about a subject he believed was attempting to steal copper from an air conditioning unit at Academy Springs Park near Conyers Street, he said in an incident report.
Upon arriving at the scene, Fuesting said he saw the suspect, identified as Kenneth Grindle, 25, of 260 Country Creek Road, Newborn, lying on top of an air conditioning unit, trying to remove the copper line. The line had been crimped and was leaking coolant, according to the CPD report.
Fuesting then took Grindle, who was holding a vice grip and screwdriver in his hands, into custody.
A search of Grindle's car later revealed a copper valve and wire, a receipt from a recycling center, as well as several tools that could have been used to remove copper from an air conditioning unit, including a hacksaw, a battery powered screwdriver and a needle-nose vice grip.
It was also discovered that the Boy Scouts of America building at the park had it's air conditioning unit completely dismantled.
Grindle was taken to the Newton County Detention Center where he was charged with criminal trespass, loitering and prowling, theft by taking and criminal damage to property.
Once in custody, Grindle also admitted to damaging five air conditioning units at the Starrsville United Methodist Church on Dixie Road earlier this month.
According to Lt. Bill Watterson, spokesman for the Newton County Sheriff's Office, it's going to cost the church more than $4,000 to repair the damage done to the units.
Grindle is being charged with an additional count of criminal damage to property for his alleged involvement in that case.
To prevent future copper thefts, authorities are asking builders to engrave their line sets and air conditioning units with the addresses of the home or business where they are installed.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.