From the Office of DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden:
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — A man is in custody for allegedly stealing air conditioning units from a preschool in Henagar.
The theft took place around 3 am on August 21, 2019. The units were taken from the Busy Bees Preschool on Highway 75 in Henagar. The suspect is also thought to be responsible for another theft at DeSoto State Park.
An investigator with the Henagar Police Department took the lead on the investigation with the assistance of investigators with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. Witnesses gave a description of a suspect and vehicle that was in the area at the time of both thefts.
Investigators learned that a suspect and vehicle matching the description was pulled over by the Sylvania Police Department in the area. The suspect currently lives near Rome, Georgia and after checking with several scrap yards in the area, it was discovered he had sold a large number of air conditioning components recently.
Shortly after obtaining a warrant for his arrest, a scrap yard notified investigators that the suspect had arrived to sell more air conditioning parts. The Rome Police Department was notified, and quickly made the arrest.
Charles Ray Ledon Wilbanks (39 of Fort Payne) was arrested on a warrant for Theft of Property, 1st Degree.
Wilbanks’ wife, Wendy Wilbanks (42 of Fort Payne) was also arrested on an outstanding felony warrant in DeKalb County for Failure to Comply.
Both are currently in the Floyd County Jail awaiting extradition to the DeKalb County Detention Center.
DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said of the arrest: “I’d like to congratulate our investigators on another job well done. The close cooperation among local agencies was essential in closing this case. One of our goals at the sheriff’s office has been to foster a good working relationship with our fellow agencies.”
“A good working relationship is essential to closing these cases, as many criminals commit thefts away from where they live to hopefully fly under the radar. That didn’t work out for them in this case,” said the sheriff.
“I’d also like to thank the Rome Police Department who quickly moved to make an arrest before they could steal again. It’s a shame they would choose to leave small children without air conditioning on these hot days,” he said.
“God Bless,” concluded Sheriff Welden.