Bibb storage units ransacked

lfabian@macon.comMarch 11, 2014 

When Jimmie DeLoach retired to the Cayman Islands about five years ago, he never expected thieves would clean out his Bibb County storage unit.

Every building at Middle Georgia Storage at 5550 Hawkinsville Road had been ransacked.

Metal roll-down doors were pried open and belongings were strewn about the property in south Bibb County.

“I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t contacted us about all that destruction,” DeLoach said while trying to enjoy Tuesday’s 74 degree morning at the beach. “They must have just abandoned that place.”

DeLoach did not suspect anything was amiss until his wife’s rent check for the unit was returned.

A family member visited the property Monday and photographed the destruction.

“There’s got to be other people that don’t even have a clue that their stuff is gone,” De-Loach said.

More than 21 years ago, the DeLoaches chose a unit close to the office and the security camera.

Now they’ve lost his father-in-law’s 1977 Mercury, antique family furniture, his grandmother’s china and a brand new lathe valued at $3,000.

“My father-in-law is devastated,” DeLoach said. “There’s no telling what was in the trunk.”

The vehicle theft was reported Monday, but the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has not received any other calls to the property since last fall, said Lt. Sean DeFoe, public information officer.

In October, someone reported unit B-42 had been broken into, and the facility was in disarray.

Investigators were not able to contact the owners, and it appeared the business had been abandoned for years, DeFoe said.

A search of records shows a motorcycle was reported stolen in August. In May, a theft was reported followed by a burglary later that month.

DeFoe says anyone who had items stored at the facility should check to see what is missing.

“They need to report any criminal activity to the sheriff’s office so we can direct them legally,” DeFoe said.

According to property records, the storage facility and adjacent property are owned by the late Steve F. Lyles and his wife, Ruth.

“I don’t have anything to do with it anymore,” Ruth Lyles said Tuesday.

When asked who owns it, she said: “I really don’t know.”

The Lyleses are listed as the owners of several properties in Bibb County and have been delinquent on taxes numerous times. Steve Lyles died in 2002.

Attorney Tim Thompson said the Lyleses defaulted on a loan from his clients for the property, and foreclosure proceedings were begun more than once.

Ruth Lyles has not responded to Thompson’s correspondence about the property, he said.

“I’ve never gotten any type of notice of her selling the property or anything,” Thompson said. “She’s the one we are still holding liable.”

DeLoach believes the owner should be responsible for the damage after apparently abandoning the property.

“You put your life in their hands and you feel violated,” he said. “It’s worse than a home invasion because at least then you have home insurance.”

Telegraph writer Linda S. Morris contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.


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