Officers use ‘buy bust’ to arrest three in theft of welder

From Staff Reports

Mar. 26, 2007 - Hopkins County sheriff's investigators pulled a sting Saturday to arrest three men suspected of stealing a welder from a southern Hopkins County residence last week.

The Lincoln Ranger welder, worth an estimated $2,500, was reported stolen from a resident on FM 1567 Thursday. The thief or thieves also made off with a $700 trailer, a cutting torch set valued at $1,000 and a toolbox and tools.

After the report was taken, investigators contacted Rains County Investigator Richard Almon to keep an eye out for the welder and trailer. Almon  contacted HCSO Investigator Lewis Tatum Saturday, saying he had located a welder that matched the description of the stolen goods.

"After identiying the welder, a 'buy bust' was set up," according to Tatum.

Tatum, Almon and HCSO Investigator Jace Anglin set up the bogus buy on a rural county road in Rains County. Three men — Toby Justin Cowley, 25, of Emory, Franklin Wayne Guinn, 26, of Point, and Richard Lee Johnson, 28, of Pensacola, Fla. — attempted to sell the welder and trailer to a man working with authorities. The three were arrested at the scene when they attempted to pick up a check for payment of the stolen welder.

They were each charged with one count of theft of property between $1,500 and $20,000.

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