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Resident's tip leads to two arrests

COVINGTON -- The combination of an alert resident and fast-acting deputies was enough to put a crimp in the plans of two alleged burglars Wednesday.

According to Newton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Cpl. Anthony Washington, a resident of Old Covered Bridge subdivision observed a truck parked in front of a vacant house on Salai Point and she thought the behavior of the two men in the truck was suspicious.

"She said she saw two subjects get out of the truck and walk around back of one of the houses and (they) started looking at one of the air conditioning units," an NCSO incident report states. "They got back in the vehicle and drove down the cul-de-sac, went back to Salai Point and walked to the back of another house, stayed a short time, went back to the vehicle and left."

A deputy checked the two houses and found damage to the air conditioning units consistent with an attempt to steal them or the copper pipe attached to the units.

"At 15 Salai Point ... the damage looked very recent. I could see footprints in the mud leading down to 130 Patterson Way. I followed the tracks, being careful not to disturb them. I could see the exact same damage to the air conditioning unit at this location as well," the report states.

"They were able to get a description of the vehicle and the subjects and they relayed this information to other officers in the area," Washington said. "They, in turn, spotted the vehicle and made a traffic stop on it."

Washington said an NCSO crime scene technician was able to make a cast of the footprints left at the scene. The footprint revealed that the man who left it wore a size 13 shoe, the report states.

"The footprints were a matching size to one of the suspect's boots and there were tools found inside the vehicle that could have been tied to the damage done to the air conditioning units. Both suspects were arrested," Washington said.

Glen Howard, 50, of 1135 Jefferson St., Atlanta, and Michael Ross Scott, 31, of 474 Arthurs Lane, Covington, were charged with theft by taking, criminal conspiracy and criminal attempt (to commit a crime).

"This was all done by a resident who was being alert," Washington said, adding that the NCSO Neighborhood Watch program emphasizes how important that partnership between residents and law enforcement is.

"Our goal is for every subdivision in Newton County to have an active Neighborhood Crime Watch. That's what Sheriff (Ezell) Brown wants us to accomplish through the Community Outreach Unit, which is what I participate in," Washington said.

Any individual or homeowners association that would like more information on instituting a Neighborhood Crime Watch should call Washington at 678-625-1417 or go the sheriff's office Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org.