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Two men nabbed in roadside metal heist

COVINGTON - A theft that could aptly be described as "highway robbery" was thwarted recently when a Newton County Sheriff's Office captain witnessed two men loading up road construction equipment on their private vehicle, according to a NCSO incident report.

Adam James Smith, 23, of 291 Purple Martin Drive, Monticello, and Daniel Gene Hall, 24, of 455 Miller Road, Covington, were arrested and charged with theft by taking.

NCSO Lt. Mark Mitchell said about 6 p.m. Aug. 5, the captain witnessed the two on Ga. Highway 212 loading pipe rollers onto the back of a Chevrolet pick-up. The rollers are used to put large pipes in place and are owned by a subcontractor for Atlanta Gas Light.

"Our investigation revealed these individuals were taking this equipment for scrap metal. Obviously, these units belonged to someone else," Mitchell said.

NCSO Deputy William Bowen was at the scene and he noticed that Smith's two children were sitting inside the truck while the attempted theft was taking place.

"I saw the children were sweating and red in the face due to the 90-degree-plus heat. I had Mr. Smith place the children in the back seat of my patrol unit. I also got water for the children," the report said.

Smith's wife was contacted and came to the scene to pick up the children and the truck.

In other crime news, a construction site on Crowell Road was hit with a large theft. A wood chipper valued at $410,000 was taken between 3 p.m. Aug. 9 and noon Aug. 10.

A Lakeside Point home was burglarized sometime between 6 and 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 10 and a large amount of valuable property was taken. Among the missing items were a $1,600 pair of Gucci loafers; two handbags - one Gucci and one Dooney and Bourke - with a combined value of more than $2,000; watches worth $800; and assorted electronics valued at nearly $3,000.

NCSO investigators discovered that there had been witnesses to the crime and have arrested two 16-year-old juveniles who lived nearby. The two purses and a Chanel watch were found at the residence of one of the youths. Mitchell said the investigation into the incident is ongoing and more arrests may follow.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.