Sheriff’s Deputy Injured After Chasing Down Scrap Metal Thieves

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An alleged attempt by three suspects to steal scrap metal from a business Wednesday night left an Athens County sheriff’s deputy injured and two Millfield residents apprehended.

The third suspect was expected to surrender to authorities Thursday, but had not turned himself in as of 2 p.m. The names of the suspects have not been made public by the sheriff’s office.

The incident took place during Wednesday night’s storm, as two 19-year-old men and a juvenile were allegedly caught trying to steal scrap metal from Cochran’s Sand & Gravel, according to a report from Sheriff Patrick Kelly. The business is located near The Plains.

Lt. Steve Sedwick chased after one of the alleged thieves, before falling and tearing ligaments in his knee, Kelly said. Sedwick was treated at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital and released.

The juvenile and one of the men were apprehended at the scene by deputies, and authorities have the name of the man who got away, Kelly said, adding that authorities were expecting him to be surrendered to the sheriff’s office by his mother.

A neighbor, Marty Wright, said he was in bed when his son heard a loud bang coming from next door. Wright said he saw people trying to steal scrap metal, and when he unsuccessfully tried to get in touch with the business’ owners by phone, he went over himself to stop them.

“We caught them red-handed,” Wright told The Messenger. “I held them until the police arrived.”

At one point, Wright said, two of them got in a truck without any keys, waiting for the third male to drive them away.

“I jumped into the truck beside them and I told them … ‘don’t move,’” Wright said. “I didn’t have a gun, but I had a two-by-four.”

A vehicle was said to have been found by deputies loaded with several items, including a grease pump and a set of aluminum running boards from a dump truck. Charlie Cochran, owner of Cochran’s Sand & Gravel, estimated the replacement value of the parts to be $3,000 to $4,000, the report said.

Wright said this isn’t the first time someone’s tried to steal from the property. What made Wednesday night’s ordeal worse, he said, was that it was pitch black and it was still storming.

“What a nightmare,” he said.

Kelly confirmed Thursday that the incident was completely unrelated to the theft of copper wire from an American Election Power substation in Nelsonville that left thousands without electricity on Wednesday.