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$70,000 and counting: ECSO recovers stolen items in Oak Park

Approximately $70,000 worth of stolen property was recovered in Oak Park last week, thanks to a collaborative effort led by Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to the various items, drugs were also recovered at the residence.

Three men are now facing charges for their alleged involvement.

Carl Roberson Kelley, a 33-year-old, is charged with four counts theft by receiving, one count possession of methamphetamine, and a singular count of possession of drug-related objects.

Russell Lee O’Conner, a 51-year-old, is charged similarly: one count theft by receiving, one count possession of meth, and possession of drug-related objects.

Edward Reshawn Jenkins, 33, is charged with giving false information, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug-related objects.

All three of the defendants have Oak Park addresses.

The Chronicle sat down on Friday, February 11, with Emanuel County Sheriff Jeffrey Brewer, Investigator Al Evans, and Chief Deputy Nick Robertson to discuss the developments.

According to these sheriff’s office leaders, this particular case is demonstrative of the benefit of teamwork inside a single agency as well as that shared between neighboring agencies. Sheriff Brewer says it took everyone in his office to bring the bust to fruition, and the help from Sheriff Alvie Lee Kight Jr.'s office from one county over was an added necessity.

The bust, which occurred during the early morning hours of Monday, February 6, came after Toombs County Sheriff’s Office and the local sheriff’s office connected. The investigative work of patching together pieces of the case has been ongoing for months, however, according to Brewer, Evans, and Robertson.

Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office began seeing an uptick in the number of theft reports last December. Often, the items being reported as stolen were large: construction equipment, heavy equipment, and tractor-trailers, for instance.

These same reports were primarily concentrated in one area—the southern area of the county.

Meanwhile, Toombs County Sheriff’s Office was noticing the same trend.

This naturally led to the two agencies networking together, and that partnership of sorts paid its dividends last week.

Toombs County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a theft, and a photo of the suspect vehicle was captured by a surveillance camera. The sheriff’s office from the nearby county shared the photos online and shortly thereafter, someone called in a tip that the suspects were believed to be located on Buckeye Road in Emanuel.

Next, Emanuel County sheriff’s deputies and investigators joined forces with Toombs County investigators. The officials responded to the residence and found the suspect vehicle at the residence. A search warrant was executed at that point and yielded two trucks which had previously been reported as stolen, along with a stolen gooseneck trailer, a stolen enclosed pull-behind trailer loaded with lumber, four 4-wheelers, and a bounty of construction supplies.

The Georgia State Patrol and its K-9 unit responded to the scene as well. Upon deployment, the K-9 alerted on several locations, which resulted in discovery of the methamphetamine.

The Chronicle asked the officials from ECSO Friday if the case had been closed yet. According to Evans, it has not. In fact, Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office is hopeful to identify any outstanding defendants as well as additional stolen property that has yet to be claimed. (For this reason, a spread of photos of property at the Buckeye Road residence is printed on page 12.)

In turn, Brewer, Evans, and Robertson hope this case will bring others to a close.

So far, they estimate the recovered items are worth upward of $70,000. That dollar amount should continue to increase as officials work through the remainder of the items.

Brewer and his staff are pleased with the results of the bust and hope members of the public take away a few key points that may help prevent them from becoming victims of stolen property crime.

The three agree on these tips:

• Write down serial numbers and other pertinent information that will help identify your property in the event it is stolen. This will help expedite the return process if the time comes.

• Put up surveillance cameras—and make sure the placement of these devices is optimal.

• Finally, know that it can—unfortunately—happen to you, and it’s best to take preventative measures now.

When asked for comment about the most gratifying part of this bust, Sheriff Brewer, Evans, and Robertson went on to say that while no crime is more or less important than another, recovering stolen property and returning it to the rightful owner is especially meaningful. Although the sheriff’s office has yet to return all of the property found, the owners who have been contacted and issued property back have been pleased. Many of the victims felt they would never see their belongings again, the sheriff’s office representatives said.

Lastly, the three officials want to use this bust as an educational moment. The public, they say, should be aware that Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office is always working on cases, including crimes like this. Sometimes, however, the process which the sheriff’s office has to follow in proving these crimes takes time—which can be understandably frustrating for complainants. Their best advice for complainants is to file the necessary reports quickly and have patience moving forward.

Kelley, O’Conner, and Jenkins all remain in jail today. Some of the charges are multi-jurisdictional, meaning other agencies have holds on them as well so once released from Emanuel County, they will be taken back into custody again.

The gallery below includes photographs of the recovered property. Note, however, more photos of recovered property are posted to Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page as the photos included seven pages over are what could be fit into this week’s edition. The public is encouraged to look through ECSO’s five posts on social media if you believe your property may be involved. Instructions about how to contact the sheriff’s office about identifying property as yours is included below.

If you recognize any of these pieces of property, the sheriff’s office wants to hear from you. They can be reached at 478-237-7526. For all photos on record, visit Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook; there are five different posts for the public to browse. Should you be the rightful owner of any of these items photographed, you must be able to correctly identify or prove ownership of the property before it is released.

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