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Family, friends face charges from suspected theft ring

Tools were taken from homes and home improvement stores

POSTED: June 29, 2011 11:00 p.m.

Commerce police have uncovered a North Georgia theft ring investigators say may be a family affair.

Six people were arrested in connection to roughly $20,000 worth of tools stolen from homes and hardware stores across several counties.

According to Detective Cpl. Jason Black, it appears Kayla Wilson, 22, and her friend Melvin Pritchett III, 25, were shoplifting from various Home Depot and Lowes stores.

"When I say shoplifting items, I'm talking generators, pressure washers, weed-eaters, backpack blowers and that type of thing," Black said.

They reportedly sold the stolen merchandise to Kayla Wilson's grandmother, Francis Wilson, 65.

Also involved were Kayla Wilson's father Tommy Wilson Jr., 42, his girlfriend, Crystal Coile, 35, and his friend Troy Wood, 30.

"Kayla and Melvin were doing the shoplifting and the rest partaking in various ways through the organization," Black said.

Some of the items were returned for store credit, but Black said some tools found their way to auctions across Georgia.

Investigators believe the organization operated for several months before things started unraveling when police received an anonymous tip.

Black said a tractor reported stolen out of Madison County was eventually located in Francis Wilson's backyard.

Based on this, he obtained a search warrant for her Spring Street home in Commerce earlier this month.

"They had backpack blowers, pressure washers and chain saws in their living room," Black said. "Just a cache of tools beyond what the average person would be in possession of."

All six suspects have been charged with felony theft by receiving, but Black said different charges may be coming.

When police contacted Home Depot to identify the stolen property, Black learned they had been suspicious of the individuals for quite some time.

He also said company representatives were able to cite suspects' names without being prompted.
Though many of the tools were in their original boxes, some may have been stolen from homes in Banks, Jackson, Habersham and Madison counties.

According to Black, both Wood and Tommy Wilson have a history of burglary and theft-related arrests.

Anyone who believes they might be the victim of one of these thefts can contact Commerce Police Department to identify their property.



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