CHURCH HILL — A call from a tipster Thursday morning led Hawkins County investigators to a large cache of pure tin stolen last month from a Church Hill factory, as well as a factory employee now charged with the theft.
Jason Wayne Barrett, 29, 213 Caldwell Road, Church Hill, reportedly told Hawkins County detectives he’d recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as an employee of AGC Industries, formerly known as AFG.
His odds of making it to 11 years diminished greatly Thursday after he was arrested and charged with theft in connection with the theft of nearly three tons of pure tin from his employer with an estimated value of $57,000.
Thursday’s edition of the Times- News included an article about the theft of what was initially believed to be 2,400 pounds of pure tin last month from the AGC Industries plant.
According to Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian, a Kingsport man whose identity was not released read that article and called the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office with information on the whereabouts of a large quantity of pure tin.
“An individual who had purchased some tin recently read about the theft in the newspaper, and he gave us a call,” Christian said. “He stated where he purchased it, a scrap yard in Caney Valley, and we went there and found a huge cast of tin in the weight of 5,700 pounds, which is quite a bit more than was originally reported. Individuals from AGC came down, and they identified it as there’s.
“They pour molten tin into a dumpster about the size of a desk, and when it cools and hardens they weigh it and put some numbers on it, and that’s how they identified it.”
Detectives found the tin at Midway Recycling, 3023 Caney Valley Road, which is in far north central Hawkins County near the Virginia state line. The proprietor reportedly told investigators he’d acquired the huge block of pure tin from Barrett.
Pure tin sells for about $10 per pound.
A separate 3,100 pounds of tin purchased by the Kingsport tipster is called “splash,” which is a lower quality, and wasn’t part of the original 5,700-pound cast.
Detectives suspect the splash too was stolen from AGC Industries but had not linked the theft of the 3,100 pounds of splash to any suspects as of Thursday evening.
Assuming the 3,100 pounds of splash is found to be stolen from AGC Industries, which Christian said is very likely, the Kingsport tipster will probably lose the metal he purchased.
“This was a very true and upstanding individual,” Christian said. “He knew that if the tin he bought from Midway Recycling turned out to be stolen he would probably lose it, but he called us anyway.”
According to reports, the 5,700-pound cast of tin was stolen sometime between 9 p.m. on June 29 and 7 a.m. on June 30.
The physical evidence seems to indicate that someone inside the facility used a tow motor belonging to the plant to lift the dumpster over a fence and into a waiting getaway vehicle.
There were tracks inside the plant where the tow motor was moved to the fence and then put back where it belongs after the heist took place.
There were also tracks outside the fence in the field where the getaway vehicle pulled up and then left the area with the stolen metal. Police believed from the start that it was an inside job.
As of Thursday evening, only Barrett had been charged in connection with the theft, although the investigation was continuing.
Barrett was released on bond Thursday afternoon.