BY KEN LITTLE
A thief who victimized a Bulls Gap man three times in January shows no signs of being camera-shy.
That's because the crook didn't know about a photo surveillance system installed by Gary Arnold, who owns the land where the crimes took place.
Greene County Sheriff's Department investigators have copies of the photos showing a stocky, bearded suspect, but haven't been able to connect the images with a name.
Investigators and Arnold are asking for the public's help in identifying the man, who is shown loading coils and other parts from what appears to be a commercial air conditioning-heating unit into a silver-colored station wagon.
"The man in the photos visited my property on three separate occasions during a 10-day period," Arnold said this week in an e-mail communication.
Arnold didn't report the first thefts to authorities, but provided details after the second incident several days later to sheriff's Detective Sgt. Jason Taylor.
The overalls-wearing man came back for a third time on Jan. 23.
He didn't know it, but he was, so to speak, on candid camera.
"During his visits he took items worth more than $1,000," Arnold said.
Photos show the thief "came prepared with the tools to dismantle the equipment so as to fit [what he was taking] into his car, which can be seen in the background," the owner said.
It is illegal for recycling yards in Tennessee to purchase similar materials "unless the seller holds the proper licensing," Arnold pointed out.
"I doubt this man holds such a license, meaning the yard is also, possibly, culpable. There will be receipts and check stubs identifying the purchaser," he noted.
Arnold said that he spoke with recycling centers listed in the telephone directory, asking if they had received the coil from the large unit in the photos.
"That coil is about the size of a door, and so [it's] not the usual fare," he said. "All disclaimed having seen it."
After the third theft happened, Arnold spoke again with Det. Sgt. Taylor.
"I told him I had the photos [and] he came that afternoon to retrieve the photos and discuss the incident," Arnold said.
Taylor agreed that putting the photos in The Greeneville Sun might provide some leads to the man's identity.
Now it's the public's turn to take a crack at the mystery thief.
Taylor and other detectives at the Greene County Sheriff's Department can be reached at (423) 798-1800.