Police conducting a sting operation got more than they bargained for when the suspect they had under surveillance interrupted a burglary in progress.
Acting on a tip from an informant, police staged near the Chicago Manufacturing Company (CMC) building on S. Beulah Street shortly after 10 a.m. on Sept. 16. The informant had previously advised that Brian Keith Roberts, 38, of 206 Poole Street in Lavonia, intended to steal sheet metal from the building that morning. The informant said he would call police as soon as Roberts arrived at the building.
A short time later, the informant called and said he and Roberts walked to the back of the building and found someone already there stealing sheet metal.
According to the informant, the suspects fled when they saw him and Roberts. The informant advised the men fled in a pickup truck which they crashed through the front rolling door of the building.
As the informant was relaying this information, the officers spotted a pickup truck with heavy front end damage heading towards Athens Street. The vehicle matched the description of the suspect vehicle.
One of the officers pursued the vehicle while three other officers went to the CMC building to detain Roberts.
Upon questioning, Roberts claimed he had permission from the owner to enter the building and remove sheet metal. However, one of the officers had already spoken with the property owner who said no one had permission to remove anything from the building.
While Roberts was being questioned, the officer who had been in pursuit of the pickup truck lost sight of the vehicle.
Roberts was taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, driving while license suspended, no insurance, criminal trespass, first degree forgery and possession of a drug related object.
The following day, the informant called police again and said a subject later identified as Michael Paul Dunn, 27, of 32 Windsor Drive in Winder, had just sold him two steel plates from the CMC building.
The informant said he recognized the metal due to a distinctive key pattern which allowed the plates to be fitted together for flooring.
The informant provided officers with a copy of Dunn’s identification and a description of his vehicle.
Before going to Dunn’s residence to question him, two officers stopped at the CMC building to verify that the two pieces of steel plate flooring were missing.
When officers arrived, they discovered Dunn and two other men inside the building apparently attempting to steal more sheet metal.
Based on evidence gathered at the scene and statements made by the suspects, Dunn, Clifford Lee Gazaway, 55, of 32 Windsor Drive in Winder, and Avery Jackson Parks, 29, of 225 Bellview Street in Winder, were placed under arrest for burglary.
Dunn and Gazaway were also charged with an additional count of burglary for the theft of the two steel plates which were sold to the informant earlier that day.