Originally created 08/25/04

Man is arrested in thefts



Richmond County sheriff's authorities arrested a North Augusta man Tuesday in connection with stealing thousands of dollars of computer equipment from the new Broad Street headquarters for the Richmond County Board of Education.

Levar Aaron Jennings, 24, of the 500 block of East Buena Vista Avenue, who had been working on the construction project, was charged with theft by receiving for stealing 15 Palm Tungsten handheld computers, an LCD projector, a Dell computer and two Samsung DVD players - a total value of $9,920, a police report states.

The thefts occurred during the weekend, police said.

Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Horace Anderson credited a tipster who noticed the suspicious actions of a tenant at River Bluff Apartments in North Augusta. The tenant, who police said was Mr. Jennings, was unloading electronic items into an apartment.

After authorities searched the apartment, the investigation eventually led to a Cauthan Drive home in south Augusta, where some of the equipment was found at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Investigator Anderson said.

He would not say who lived in the Cauthan Drive home because that is part of the ongoing investigation.

"We've got most of the property back and could be looking at more arrests," he said. He said North Augusta Public Safety officials assisted in the operation.

The thefts were reported Monday by a school public safety officer who said the items were taken sometime between 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday, a police report said.

The school officer said he saw a number of empty boxes scattered throughout the four-story complex.

School board President Jeff Padgett said he conferred with school Superintendent Charles Larke on Tuesday, and they will take precautions to prevent similar incidents.

"We'll have to take a closer look at who's hired and not provide them with certain access or opportunities," Mr. Padgett said.

Police said Mr. Jennings was a temporary construction worker hired to work on the building.

Mr. Padgett said some employees have relocated from the old Heckle Street board facility and are working on the building's top two floors.

Mr. Padgett credited sheriff's investigators and the concerned tipster for their diligence in making the arrests.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.