A Moultrie man arrested along with a woman Wednesday was the third Moultrie city employee to be jailed on metal-theft charges in about a month’s time.

The Friday night theft of copper wire from the city’s service center on First Street Northeast was unrelated to a the theft of metal pipe in which arrests of two then-city employees were made in August, police said.

In the latest incident Arzie Lorenzo Butts, 24, 401-D 31st Ave. S.E., and Laverne Young, also known as Lavonne Young, 48, 315 Fifth Ave. N.W., were each charged with theft by receiving stolen property. They are accused of selling several hundred pounds of new copper wire to a recycler.

The theft at the city facility was discovered on Monday, said Moultrie Police Department Cpl. Dave Underwood.

“One of the city workers started looking around at different places and it turned up at Cox Truck and Van,” he said. “It was about 600 pounds of wire, near 600 pounds.”

The investigation revealed that Young sold the wire for about $600, and a Cox employee recognized Butts, who was with her at the time, Underwood said.

The case is still under investigation, he said.

Butts worked for the city for about six months through a temp company as a garbage collector, said Danny Ward, public works director.

“He’s no longer with us,” he said.

The wire was taken from a secure area, said Roger King, city utilities director. It is not the type of wire used in houses and is a special type used by the city.

“We have always kept it under lock and key,” King said. “Only a few employees have keys to that area.”

In August, Jeffery Lee Johnson II, 31, and Justin Matthew Johnson, 29, were each charged with theft by receiving. They are accused in the theft of brass pipe and fittings, purchased for use in the city’s water system, over a period of several months.

They were arrested after a city employee found the fittings at a recycler — not the same one the wire was found at.

One of the employees, who had worked for the city only a short time, was terminated the next day and the other was fired after he did not file an appeal during three days given to do so in city policy, King said.

About two weeks after their arrests on Aug. 16, Jennifer Nicole Barnwell, 31, of Moultrie, was charged with theft by receiving stolen property in that case.

She was not a city employee but was living with one of the former city employees and knew or should have known about the thefts, Underwood said.


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