Members of the Georgia State Intelligence Network meet in Covington Thursday where they were treated to barbecue, live music and a copper theft workshop by Covington Police Department Detective DJ Seals.
GSIN is a network of city, county, state and federal law enforcement officials that meet monthly to share information regarding criminal activities in their particular areas. Seals said this collection of different perspectives has lead to major breaks in several cases around the state.
Most of the monthly meetings involve a seminar or training exercise, followed by an around the room discussion of issues and cases in each person's area. This roundtable is extremely valuable and can save investigators weeks of work, Seals said. A series of crimes in different counties in the metro area can often be related and GSIN meetings are essential at helping investigators link them.
The meetings also allow officers to spread the word on how they have made a big bust and how others can apply the tools they used. At Thursday's meeting, Seals detailed the CPD's crack down on copper thieves and the people that buy the stolen items.
"If there is a demand, there will be supply," Seals said. "If you stifle the demand, the criminals will have to go somewhere else."
Seals recently had a stolen copper bust which resulted in more than 2,000 charges. The case took a year for Seals to develop, but he hopes his ground work will aid other GSIN members to cut that time down in their own investigations.
Seals said copper theft has become a major problem around the country, but particularly in expanding areas like Newton County. Would be thieves have even gone so far as to attempt to steal copper rods from Version cell towers and Georgia Power towers. Copper theft on constructions sites has also become common in the county.
"Those thefts hit the homeowner, the contractor and the companies," Seals said. "It can affect everyone and it is easy, easy money."
But Seals is quick to point out that making money from scrap metals can be a legitimate and necessary business.
"Somebody needs to do the job," Seals said. "There is scrap everywhere."
The CPD's job is to ensure that those businesses follow the law and only accept metals that are legally obtained.
The next meeting of the GSIN will be held in Baldwin County on Sept. 20 and 21.