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Alleged copper thieves nabbed

Published 9:25am Monday, January 28, 2013

WINTON – After months of investigation, it appears a string of thefts and damage inflicted to farm irrigation systems has been solved.

Three Bertie County men stand charged in the crimes, 12 of which have occurred in Hertford County alone.

HC Sheriff Juan Vaughan reported the arrests of Joshua Cole Hoggard, 22 of Pine Ridge Road, Windsor; James Walter Johnson Jr., 24, of North Wheeler Drive, Merry Hill; and Dakota Blackwell Ray, 23, of Bull Hill Road, Windsor.

Hoggard stands charged with 13 counts of unlawful possession or transportation of copper, 12 counts of felony larceny and 12 counts of injury to personal property. He is being held at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail under an $85,000 secured bond.

Johnson, incarcerated in the Hertford County Jail under a $245,000 secured bond, is charged with 12 counts each of felony larceny and injury to personal property as well as two counts of unlawful possession or transportation of copper.

For his role in the alleged crimes, Ray was charged with nine counts of unlawful possession or transportation of copper and one count each of felony larceny and injury to personal property. He posted a $20,000 secured bond and was released from the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail.

Vaughan said the damage to the irrigation systems in his county was estimated at a combined $120,000 and occurred at Gilliam Farms (2 systems affected), Pierce Farms (4), Newsome Farms (2), Beasley Farms (2) and one each at Murfreesboro Farms and Brinkley Farms.

“As you can see there were numerous farming operations here in Hertford County impacted by these thefts,” Vaughan said. “We are aware that this type of crime also occurred in our neighboring counties. Hopefully this type of criminal activity will stop with these arrests.”

Vaughan said HCSO Captain Will Liverman has been spearheading the investigation since September of last year.

“He did a great job on this and we thank Bertie Sheriff John Holley and his staff for their help in solving these crimes.”

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