TIFTON - Four men have been arrested in connection with two separate incidents of attempted theft of anhydrous ammonia from a local farm supply center.

Anhydrous ammonia is used in agriculture to make fertilizer but can also be used as a catalyst in the making of methamphetamine.

Tift County Sheriff's Investigator Bobby Brannen said Monday that Jacob Matthew Clark, 20, 1287 Ramona Ave., Macon; Kenneth Helms, 27, 114 Lake John Road, Ivey; and Terrance Shawn Bright, 26, 3537 Jordan Road, Byron, were charged with two counts each of criminal trespass and one count each of criminal attempt to commit theft, possession of marijuana and possession of methamphetamine.

The three men were arrested Thursday morning after deputies responded to an alarm at Brownlee Farm Center on U.S. Highway 41 South. Maj. Jack Woolard of the TCSD said bloodhounds from Valdosta State Prison were brought in to track the suspects and the Turner County Sheriff's Department also assisted with the chase.

"We caught one of them outside the fence in some brush, and the dogs tracked the second one to the recycling plant," said Woolard. "He had a Jeep Cherokee backed up in there behind some cardboard and covered up with cardboard.

"And then the people at the recycling plant spotted the third one running across a field and we got him hemmed in with the dogs."

One of the men was found wearing camouflage and night-vision goggles, Brannen said.

Bright was also charged with an additional count of criminal trespass stemming from another incident on the night of July 15-16.

The fourth man, Howell Minchew, 27, Route 5 Box 504A, Tifton, was charged Sunday night with criminal trespass and criminal attempt to commit theft after another break-in at Brownlee Farm Center.

Farm center owner Kenny Brownlee said his business had had "probably 10 attempts" at break-ins over the past two weeks. "The sheriff's department has done a fantastic job," he said. "I have the highest praise for them. They've really put some kind of effort in this thing, trying to get this stopped in this county."

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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