PICKENS COUNTY – Pickens County officials say an effort is underway to increase surveillance at recycling centers within the county, and it has already resulted in multiple arrests.
At least four local residents have been arrested in connection with recycling center thefts, and County Administrator Chappell Hurst said the county is teaming up with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office to step up security.
“Over the past several months, we’ve had numerous break-ins occur at our convenience centers,” Hurst said. “The individuals that break in go around to the sites prior to break around and look around to see which site has the most batteries or things of value that they can load up and haul off.”
Polcie arrested 38-year-old Johnathon Douglas Swanson Sr., 61-year-old Roger Dale Miller Sr., 42-year-old Richard Jamie Reece and 24-year-old Ashley Michelle Owens in two seperate incidents in Six Mile and Table Rock.
All four suspects were charged with simple larceny and Swanson, Reece and Owens were charged with unlawful entry into an enclosed area.
Swanson and Miller were charged in connection with thefts at the Six Mile Recycling Center, located at 127 Willow Springs Rd. in Six Mile, while Reece and Owens were charged in connection with thefts at the Table Rock Recycling Center, located at 289 Country Creek Drive in Pickens.
Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said the sheriff’s office was conducting on-site surveillance at the recycling centers when “various tools and materials” were removed. Authorities say they recovered the materials with the suspects just moments later.
The suspects were taken into custody and were placed in the Pickens County Detention Facility on charges of simple larceny.
“(We’re) committed to conducting proactive operations such as these in the effort to drive thieves out of Pickens County,” Clark said. “Modern day law enforcement can no longer stand by and react to crime but rather must go on the offensive to proactively stop the criminal element before they victimize your family or mine”.
Hurst said it is important to get these thefts under control because of the impact they have on taxpayer dollars.
“Our recycling effort within the county is critical,” Hurst said. “These break-ins are money lost for Pickens County. We’ve been able to lower our cost of doing business with garbage by almost a third, so this is an important thing and we take it very seriously.
Hurst said Clark went out and made the arrests himself.
“The people who are buying these materials need to understand that if they are bringing something to you and you’re buying it cheap, you’re as much to blame as (anybody),” County Council Chairman Neil Smith said. “These people better be ready because they have a way of catching you now.”