Alabama man arrested after stealing air conditioning units from preschool: police

An Alabama man was arrested Wednesday after police say he stole “a large number” of air conditioning units from a local preschool — and then sold off the parts to scrapyards for cash.

Charles Ray Ledon Wilbanks, 39, was taken into custody by the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office after investigators say he took several AC units from the Busy Bees Preschool in Henagar last month.

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Wilbanks allegedly broke into the preschool on Aug. 21 at around 3 a.m., police said in a news release. Henagar Police spoke to witnesses who gave a description of the suspect and identified a vehicle that was seen at the school during the time of the robbery.

Charles Ray Ledon Wilbanks, 39, was taken into custody by Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office after investigators say he took several AC units from the Busy Bees Preschool in Henagar last month. 

Charles Ray Ledon Wilbanks, 39, was taken into custody by Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office after investigators say he took several AC units from the Busy Bees Preschool in Henagar last month.  (Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office)

Soon after, authorities learned a man matching that description was pulled over by the Sylvania Police in a vehicle that reportedly matched witness testimony.

Investigators searched scrapyards near Rome, Ga., where Wilbanks lived, and said they discovered he “sold a large number of air conditioning components recently.”

A warrant for his arrest was issued and he was picked up after a scrapyard notified police he was attempting to sell more parts, officials said.

Wilbanks was charged with first-degree theft of property and is being held in the Floyd County Jail where he is awaiting extradition to the Dekalb County Detention Center.

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Sheriff Nick Welden condemned the theft, calling it “a shame [he] would choose to leave small children without air conditioning on these hot days.”

Wilbanks’ wife, Wendy Wilbanks, was also arrested on an outstanding felony warrant. It was not immediately clear if she was believed to have played a role in the theft.