JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the Jasper County Sheriff's Office arrested a 35-year-old man earlier this month in connection to allegations that he stole thousands of dollars worth of copper wiring from air conditioner units and lights from a church in Buna.
Gus Dewayne Richards, of Buna, was booked into the Jasper County Jail on a state-jail felony theft of aluminum, bronze, copper, or brass charge. No bail amount was provided.
According to the probable cause affidavit East Texas News obtained Wednesday JCSO deputy was dispatched to the Central Baptist Church in Buna, which is located on State Highway 96, in response to a theft report on Feb. 5. When he got there, he spoke to the church's caretaker.
The caretaker told the Jasper County deputy that they walked through the new construction that is going on at the church when they noticed that several items had been taken, the affidavit stated. Two four-ton air conditioner units that were going to be used in the new building were taken, the caretaker said.
The caretaker told the JCSO deputy that two LED spotlights, two 250-Watt flood lights, eight extension cords, two halogen floodlights on stands, and several feet of loose cooper wire were also taken from the church, the affidavit stated. The man told the deputy that the items were taken sometime between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5.
When the JCSO deputy checked out the area around the church, he noticed that the fence had been cut, and there were drag marks leading into a nearby wooded area, the affidavit stated. The deputy followed the drag marks into the woods and found a disassembled A/C unit with its copper core and tubing missing.
The cuts on the air conditioner unit appeared at have come from bolt cutters, the affidavit stated.
Then the JCSO deputy went to a nearby property owned by Richards' father, and he got permission to look around. When the deputy went to the back of the property, he found a large brown Halogen light that matched the description of one of the lights stolen from the church.
When the JCSO deputy asked Richards' father about the light, the man told him his son had said that construction workers at the church had given it to him. Richards arrived at the home and short time later, and when the deputy asked him where he got the light, he said he got it from a trash dumpster at the Outback trailer park on Jan. 20.
Later, the JCSO deputy went to J-3 Metals in Evadale and confirmed that Richards and another man had sold the scrapyard air conditioner parts, electric motors, copper wire, and bronze on Jan. 19 and Jan. 26.