COVINGTON -- A burglary suspect tracked down by the Newton County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit in the early morning hours Tuesday has been linked to burglaries in both Newton and Rockdale counties, according to NCSO spokesman Deputy Courtney Morrison.
"We received a burglary in progress call on July 6 at 3 a.m. and deputies responded to a house on Bulloch Road," Morrison said, adding that the actual homeowner wasn't at the residence, but his father and daughter were home.
"The complainant said he was awakened by a noise and when he came downstairs he smelled a strong odor of cigarette smoke. He doesn't smoke, nor does anyone in the house," Morrison said.
The victim then noticed that three beers were missing from the refrigerator, along with other items in the kitchen, which included a jar of coins and bills, a cell phone and a shirt hanging on the back of a chair.
"When they arrived, the deputies set up a perimeter and called in the K-9 Unit. The canine tracked a trail directly to a campsite in the woods where the suspect was staying," Morrison said.
Arrested and charged with burglary was Justin Colson, 26, who gave an address of 2734 Henderson Road, Tucker, although deputies said he appeared to be camping in the wooded area located on the Rockdale/Newton county line, off Bailey Creek Road, which turns off from Ga. Highway 20.
"All the items were located from the burglary and returned to the owner, except the shirt," Morrison said, adding that it was taken into evidence and was "extremely dirty" by the time deputies located it.
Morrison said evidence has also been uncovered to connect Colson to open burglary cases out of Rockdale County, as well.
In other burglary news, NCSO deputies apprehended two men believed to be involved in a Crowell Road prescription drug burglary shortly after the crime took place, thanks to an alert deputy who recalled a vehicle that may have been involved.
Morrison said a deputy spotted a Ford Winstar parked on the side of Crowell Road and he stopped and asked the female driver if she needed assistance.
The woman told him the van ran hot and that her mother was on her way to help her, Morrison said.
"The deputy didn't notice anything alarming or out of the ordinary so he left, telling the woman if she needed anything to call," she said.
"A few minutes later, a burglary call comes out for the residence (where the woman was parked) and the deputy put out a vehicle BOLO on the van," Morrison said, adding that the van was shortly stopped on Turner Lake Road.
Two men were arrested and charged in connection with the burglary and during the course of the investigation, were found to be in possession of suspected drugs and drug paraphernalia.
James Beck, 40, of Madison, and Clinton Woffard, 23, of Buckhead in Morgan County, were both charged with burglary, possession of Schedule III, IV and V substances and the manufacturing, selling or distribution of Schedule I and II drugs, possession of a drug-related object and possession of a tool in commission of a crime.
Morrison said the female driver was not arrested, although the incident is still under investigation and further charges may ensue.