Arrests made in thefts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NATCHEZ — Three men are in jail and more than $300,000 in stolen merchandise has been recovered as a result of an arrest last week in Columbia.

Some of the stolen merchandise and two of those arrested have roots in Natchez.

Adams County Sheriff’s Investigator Ricky Stevens said it’s not common to see theft rings as widespread and organized as the one busted last week.

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Stevens and Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said they believe the trio, and possibly others, is involved in several thefts of lawn equipment in Natchez, Adams County and other counties in Mississippi.

The ring was exposed when Darin McCoy, 34, of Natchez was arrested Wednesday in Columbia while allegedly trying to steal a high-end riding lawn mower.

Natchez Police Sgt. Craig Godbold said McCoy’s arrest then led to the arrest of Jamie Loving and Dale Perry, formerly of Natchez.

Mullins said since the arrest, two mowers, recently stolen from a local retailer; one four-wheeler; two off-road vehicles and three trailers have been recovered.

At least two of the mowers were stolen from Cook Lawn and Tractor.

One of the four-wheelers, with a trailer, was stolen from Briarwood Drive in December.

Godbold said the bulk of the stolen merchandise was four-wheelers, off-road vehicles, trailers, mowers and some generators.

The investigation is open and ongoing, Mullins said

“We expecting more recoveries and possibly more arrests,” he said.

Mullins said authorities from Columbia, Franklin County, Hattiesburg and Lincoln County are all working on the investigation.

The United States Department of Agriculture, which investigates large equipment theft, is also assisting the investigation.

While none of the three arrested are being detained in Natchez, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office does have a hold on all three men pending their releases.

And for at least one of the three, a trip to the Adams County Jail won’t be a first.

Stevens said McCoy was out on bond from a previous arrest in Adams County for stealing a riding lawn mower.

His bond has since been revoked, Stevens said.