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Sheriff Busts Copper Theft Ring

Sheriff Jerimaine Gooch reported an investigation into the theft of phone cables in the county has led to multiple arrests. This is the second case in less than a year involving the theft of phone cables that have been cut from utility poles. The cables are burned to isolate the copper that is sold for scrap value.

COFFEEVILLE – Three people have been arrested and authorities are searching for additional suspects following an investigation into the theft of hundreds of feet of phone cable in Yalobusha and surrounding counties. Sheriff Jermaine Gooch reported deputies made arrests at two different locations, catching the suspects while they were burning the plastic coating on the cables to isolate the copper.

The sheriff explained the phone cable contains dozens of small, plastic-coated copper lines. The thieves cut the phone cable, located on utility poles several feet below electric lines. The phone lines primarily provided service to AT&T customers.
Gooch said cable thefts were reported on County Road 222 and County Road 212 in Yalobusha County in February. A farmer also had copper wires stolen from an irrigation system in the same area. Similar cable thefts reported in neighboring counties are also attributed to the same ring.

“This investigation remains active and we expect at least six more arrests,” Gooch reported. “We are talking about thousands and thousands of dollars in damages for the phone company. We believe this ring is responsible for stealing at least 2,000 pounds of copper wire that was sold for scrap value.”

Arrests include Kyle Dean, who was charged with grand larceny; Andrew Jackson, who was charged with two counts of petit larceny and commercial burglary; and April Crow, who was charged with petit larceny.

Dean was arrested on March 12 at his residence on Hwy. 330 outside of Coffeeville during execution of a search warrant.

Gooch reported that several hundred pounds of smoldering copper was seized from the property.

“The stolen wire was burning in the front yard when we got there,” Chief Deputy Thomas West added.

Jackson was arrested during a traffic stop after he left Dean’s residence.

“He was also in possession of copper wire,” West said.

The investigation then led to the execution of a search warrant in Grenada County with assistance from Grenada County deputies. Crow was charged with petit larceny at this location after she was linked to the theft of a smaller amount of copper wire.

The sheriff said Grenada County deputies also made arrests at the residence for drug charges in a chaotic scene.

“Of course, drug use is consistent with this copper theft ring. When we pulled up, everybody was running and trying to stash drugs. They were also melting the plastic coating from the phone cables at this location,” Gooch said.
Gooch said evidence was recovered at the Grenada County residence from a June, 2023, burglary.

“A camera system and accompanying hard drive were stolen from a residence in the Bryant Community in Yalobusha. We were able to recover some evidence in that case,” Gooch said.

Other arrests reported by the sheriff include:

• James Harris of Coffeeville was arrested for DUI on March 26. Deputies made the arrest after responding to a single vehicle crash on County Road 232.

• Plyntrz Gooch of Kansas was arrested on a felony warrant out of Kansas on March 23. The arrest came after deputies responded to a disturbance call on County Road 225.

“He was the one causing the disturbance,” the sheriff added.

Plyntrz Gooch signed extradition papers and was picked up by Kansas authorities on March 28.

• Larry Stricklin of Water Valley was arrested for domestic violence on March 23.

• Jalen Walker of Lafayette County was arrested at the sheriff’s department on March 21. Walker had an outstanding warrant.

• Bobby Townsend of Coffeeville was arrested for aggravated animal cruelty on Hwy. 330, east of Coffeeville, on March 19.

• Thomas Williams of Grenada was arrested on a bench warrant on March 19. Williams was arrested on County Road 211.

• Melody Smith of Charleston was arrested for simple assault on March 9. Smith was arrested at a family member’s residence.

• Kala Lopez was arrested for possession of ecstasy and driving with a suspended license on March 7. The arrest was made during a traffic stop on I-55 near Hwy. 32.

• Antonio Smith of Charleston was arrested for felony fleeing, running a stop sign, felony possession of marijuana, assault on a law enforcement officer and driving with a suspended license on March 4. Deputies attempted to stop Smith for running a stop sign in Oakland. A pursuit followed into Tallahatchie County as Smith drove to his residence and bailed out of his vehicle. He was captured in the woods behind the house with the assistance of Tallahatchie County deputies.

• Christopher Melton was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant on March 5.

• James Peacock of Water Valley was arrested for possession of methamphetamine on Feb. 25. The arrest was made during a traffic stop on Hwy. 7 in Water Valley.

• Christina Adams of Water Valley was arrested for felony child abuse on Feb. 20.

• Cadarious Crutcher was arrested on Feb. 20 for an outstanding circuit court arrest warrant. The warrant was issued in 2019 after Crutcher violated terms of his probation from a 2015 robbery conviction.

• James Bardo of Coffeeville was arrested for trespassing on Feb. 18. The arrest was made after a landowner complained about trespassing on his property and deputies installed a motion activated cell camera. Deputies responded to the property after receiving a photo of the trespasser.

“We were there in 10 minutes, he was surprised to see us,” West said.

• William McGowan of Charleston was arrested for DUI first offense on Feb. 11. The arrest was made during a traffic stop on Hwy. 51 in Oakland.

• Roddarius Torrance was arrested on Eckford Street in Water Valley for an oustanding arrest warrant on Feb. 6.

• Michael Mitchell of Water Valley was arrested for domestic violence on Feb. 3.

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