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Roofers charged in hail scheme

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Police say a pair of unscrupulous roofers were caught inflicting faux hail damage on a Lawrenceville home this week in an effort to drum up business.

Police arrested Buford resident Thomas Beveridge, 53, owner of a namesake roofing company, and his associate, Lawrenceville resident Chad Hilliard, 26, on felony charges of conspiracy to commit a crime.

A woman called police to her Rae Place home Monday afternoon to report a man on her roof without permission and another in her yard. She also contacted her neighbor, an insurance adjuster who specializes in roof repairs, who began videotaping the man on the roof, according to a police report.

An officer arrived to find Beveridge and Hilliard attempting to leave in two separate trucks. Beveridge told police he had solicited work in the subdivision and sent Hilliard atop the roof to check for hail damage, the report says.

The officer viewed the video, which reportedly showed Hilliard using a set of keys to carve holes in the roof. Police then found several torn shingles in Beveridge's truck that appeared to have been ripped off the home, the report says.

The homeowner told police she'd been in discussions with Beveridge days earlier about repairs but never gave him or anyone else permission to be on the roof. The men were arrested at the scene.

Neither suspect could be reached for comment Thursday. A page left at a number listed in a police report as Hilliard's was not returned.

Both men posted bond at the Gwinnett County Jail and were released Monday. Hilliard faces an additional count of misdemeanor marijuana possession for allegedly having a small amount of the drug in his truck.

The neighbor told police the men's alleged actions are a common scam perpetrated by dishonest roofing companies.

Dottie Callina, Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta spokeswoman, said the ruse can have slight variations.

"Some roofers will go up with teaspoons," she said.

The BBB warns consumers to be leery of door-to-door roofing companies that promise insurance compensation for repairs.

Property owners should verify with the National Weather Service that a hailstorm has actually swept through neighborhoods before agreeing to repairs. Hail less than 11/4 inches in diameter isn't usually capable of causing roof damage, the BBB says.