Local authorities recently arrested three Atlanta-area men in connection with the break-ins of several tractor-trailer trucks at Love's Travel Lodge near Thomson.
Investigator Larry Adaway of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department identified the suspects as: Reco Melvin Jackson, 34, of the 2400 block of Jonesboro Road, Atlanta; Eric Charrod Gay, 32, of the 700 block of Oak Street, Atlanta; and Jackie Jermaine Harris, 34, of the 4300 block of Glennwood Avenue, Decatur.
All three men were taken into custody Oct. 23 and each charged with two counts of entering an auto, Investigator Adaway said. The suspects were taken to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson.
David Barnhardt, a truck driver from The Woodlands, Texas, told Deputy Jared Land that he was awakened while asleep in his rig by movement in the trailer. Mr. Barnhardt said he spotted a large U-Haul truck parked beside his rig. The truck was backed into a parking space.
When he got out of his truck and walked around to the trailer doors, he noticed that they were open. He spotted two men, wearing dark clothing, walking away with two large white boxes. He said he saw where his cargo had been tampered with and later saw a pair of bolt cutters on the ground nearby.
As Mr. Barnhardt was walking back to get his cell phone to call local authorities, he tried to talk to the driver of the U-Haul, but the driver drove off.
Deputy Land, who happened to be at the business when he received the call from a 911 dispatcher, later traveled eastbound along Interstate 20 looking for the suspect vehicle, which had an Arizona license plate.
Later that morning, Deputy Land received word from his dispatcher that a deputy with the Taliaferro County Sheriff's Department had stopped a U-Haul fitting the description of the one that fled the business in McDuffie County. Deputy Land drove to where the traffic stop was made near Crawfordville. There, he spoke with the driver of the truck, one of the suspects, Mr. Harris. His passengers also denied stopping at the truck stop -- one of them saying they had been driving for hours.
Further investigation by Deputy Kerry Johnson found that several more big rigs had been broken into at the truck stop. As a result, Investigator Adaway was called to the scene.