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Officials say man stole natural gas for years

Bryan McGee

Bryan McGee

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Fire investigators say a Lawrenceville man cut corners to save on natural gas costs the last few years via means that put his neighborhood in danger, and they're determined to see he pays a heavy price.

Bryan Thad McGee, 42, of Lawrenceville, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor counts ranging from tampering with a gas meter to theft of natural gas product, officials said Tuesday.

An investigation launched last week when Atlanta Gas Light officials contacted Gwinnett County Fire Department investigators concerning a residential gas meter stolen from a vacant house in the 500 block of Oak Springs Drive in Lawrenceville. The property neighbors McGee's home in the 500 block of Inwood Trail, located off Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Investigators found that McGee had stolen the gas meter in April 2007 and installed it at his home to obtain free gas for three years, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

"Because McGee is not specifically trained to work on gas meters, his actions posed an extreme threat to himself and others in the community," Rutledge said.

Prior to the theft, the gas company visited McGee's home on 12 separate occasions to shut off and lock his gas meter.

"Each time, (McGee) would cut the lock off and turn the gas back on," Rutledge said.

The gas company contacted investigators after they'd identified the stolen meter on the side of McGee's home last week, Rutledge said. He was unsure if the victimized home is still vacant or not.

Fire Investigators found sufficient evidence to take warrants for criminal trespass, theft by taking, criminal damage to property and interfering with a public utility.

McGee turned himself in at Fire Department headquarters on Monday. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.

One warrant charges McGee with thieving 4,232 cubic feet of natural gas product, worth well over $500, in the most recent incident.

The charges could result in significant fines and jail time, Rutledge said.