In Monday’s incident, drain grates were allegedly stolen from the area of APD 40 near 20th Street. The metal was not considered scrap.
Bradley County deputies arrested Heinz E. Appelt, 46, and Kimberly Atkins, 37, and charged them with theft over $1,000 after a concerned resident allegedly spotted them place four grates in a vehicle and begin taking another.
According to Bob Gault, media relations coordinator for Bradley County Sheriff’s office, the suspects were taking the grates in “broad daylight.”
“When deputies arrived at 20th Street and APD 40 they found the couple had loaded four grates in the back of their van and a fifth was lying beside the vehicle. Appelt and Atkins, both of 1600 South Lee Highway, were taken into custody and charged for theft over $1,000,” said Gault.
A few weeks ago, city law enforcement charged a person with taking grates but, according to one local businessman, “He left here in the back seat of a police car.”
Mike Hodnett owns All Metals Salvage, located on Inman Street. The alleged perpetrator attempted to sell the iron at Hodnett’s business.
Hodnett makes sure to follow all rules of the legislation handed down by the state regarding dealers buying scrap metals.
His company documents and asks for identification from individuals who want to sell scrap metals such as copper, aluminum and steel.
“Tennessee has the laws, but Georgia doesn’t. We are going to be reputable and follow the laws regarding scrap sales,” said Hodnett.
“This type offense can also be dangerous to the public,” said Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth.
“It becomes a public safety issue when drain grates or manhole covers are taken from their intended purpose. Motorists can damage their vehicle or an accident can be caused when a cover or grate has been removed,” Ruth explained.
Hodnett said his company has seen no great increase in scrap copper sales such as a few years ago when copper was a hot commodity among thieves; however, random reports are still filed with law enforcement officials over copper theft.
Gault noted deputies stated the grates allegedly taken by Appelt and Atkins would have been taken to a scrap metals dealer.
The grates were valued at $1,250.
“I want to commend the resident who saw this and reported it,” Ruth said.
“This particular area doesn’t have an official Neighborhood Watch group yet, but we hope to have one for the community in the future. But, this person did what he was supposed to do and that’s how community outlook and policing works. In this case, it worked very well,” Ruth said.