Pair charged in lumber theft

Published 3:13 am Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Brewton couple has been arrested on theft charges in connection with missing lumber from the construction site of a walkway being constructed near O’Bannon Park.

Gregory Ryals was arrested and charged with second-degree theft. His wife, Tracey Ryals, was also arrested and charged with second degree receiving stolen property.

The arrests were made by Brewton Police Officers on Aug. 26 at the home of the couple on McGougin Road.

Sgt. Steve Ferguson with Brewton Police said the arrests came after a tip was received Aug. 20 concerning a large amount of lumber stolen from the construction site may have been the work of Ryals.

“We received a tip that lumber may have been stolen from O’Bannon Park while a walk way was being built,” Ferguson said. “The caller advised us that the individual who may have been responsible for stealing the lumber was Ryals.”

Ferguson said officers began an investigation into the allegations and contacted the company working on the construction.

“Creamer Dozier was the company who built the walkway,” Ferguson said. “Employees there advised that at the end of the project a large amount of lumber was missing although the missing lumber was never reported.”

Investigators went to the home of Ryals on McGougin Road to continue their investigation into the allegations, Ferguson said.

“Upon reaching the residence investigators were able to observe what appeared to be a freshly built wooden fence around what seemed to be an above ground swimming pool,” Ferguson said. “Days later, after further investigation, officers once again went to the residence to speak with Gregory.”

At the time of the return visit by officers, Gregory’s wife, Tracey, spoke with officers, Ferguson said.

“At that time Tracey was uncooperative,” Ferguson said. “She refused to give Gregory’s location so officers could speak with him. She also gave false information to the officers.”

Ferguson said officers returned to the residence later that day to serve a search warrant at the home.

“During the execution of the search warrant officers were able to locate several identifying factors to match the lumber at Gregory’s house to the lumber at O’Bannon Park,” Ferguson said. “Also located at the residence was a picnic table and a set of steps built out of the same lumber believed to have been taken from O’Bannon Park.”

Both were released on $5,000 bonds.