Columbia County investigators likely put an end to a rash of truck break-ins at truck stops and hotels along Interstate 20 with the arrest of two Augusta men.
James Gary Brown, 46, of Kevin Drive, and Troy Goodman, 33, of Rutledge Drive, were charged with two counts of burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime and obstruction of police.
Since late August, numerous tractor-trailer drivers told police their cargo trailers were broken into during the early morning hours while they were parked at hotels or truck stops near I-20.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigators were conducting a surveillance operation at about 9:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Pilot Travel Center at 4091 Jimmie Dyess Parkway. They saw Brown and Goodman come onto the property from a nearby hotel, where they parked their vehicle.
Investigators saw Brown break into a trailer while Goodman stood as a lookout. Brown used bolt cutters to cut the lock off a second trailer. The pair unloaded several brown boxes and stacked them on the ground.
As soon as police approached and identified themselves, the two men ran. Goodman was immediately arrested, and Brown was captured after a brief foot chase.
The men are suspected in at least 13 other burglaries of cargo trailers at the Pilot and nearby hotels, according to sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
“Those crimes have stopped since they were arrested,” Morris said.
Nothing was taken from trailers containing furniture and Hallmark greeting cards. But items stolen from other trailers include $422.93 worth of various cuts of beef, $300 worth of paper towels, $800 worth of toilet tissue, $500 worth of Heinz ketchup, 25 cases of Renuzit air freshener, $2,900 worth of meats and $200 worth of cheese.
Brown and Goodman are being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.