Copper Thieves Caught With Help From Mini GPS Tracking Devices
Copper theft is a concern for any contractor or builder, and knowing that copper theft is on the rise is a serious problem. Thieves are breaking into residential and commercial properties to strip and steal copper wiring, often leaving significant damages in their wake.
Six men in Indianapolis were arrested in connection to a metal theft ring that resulted in thousands of dollars in stolen copper. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry identified Jimichael Parker, 37, as the ring leader of the operation. He was charged with multiple counts of theft, racketeering, and filing false income taxes.
Parker and five other men were convicted of stealing more than 47,000 pounds of copper and selling it at a scrap yard for more than $156,000.
According to Curry, the scrap metal thefts of air conditioning units in Marion County have exceeded more than $800,000 to date this year.
Mini GPS Trackers For Scrap Metal
Local law enforcement officials were able to obtain information on the scrap metal theft ring by connecting their names to one Indianapolis salvage yard after their names continuously came up on their records. The police department used a nationwide internet service to track transactions made by Parker and his associates. Indianapolis area scrap yards are required to submit real-time information on what scrappers sell and when they sell them.
After making the connection, investigators went to court to secure a warrant for a GPS tracking device that was installed on the suspect’s vehicle. The GPS tracking device was used to gather location data on the vehicle’s travels, allowing police to monitor its movements in case it was involved in another theft.
Investigators say the scrap metal theft ring targeted large, vacant commercial buildings. By removing the copper wiring in just four commercial structures, the thieves caused nearly $300,000 of damage to the structures.
In a separate but similar incident, two men in Northborough, Mass., were arrested and charged with four counts of conspiracy, four counts of defacing property, four counts of larceny from a building, four counts of possessing burglarious instruments, and four counts of larceny over $250 for a string of copper thefts that occurred in Northborough and surrounding towns during July.
On July 27, Detective Jeffrey Noel of the Northborough Police Department visited Schnitzer Scrap Metals in Worcester as part of his investigation of several break-ins that had occurred that month.
According to the police report filed in Westborough District Court, supervisor Mark Booth told Noel that he had seen the suspect, Christopher Shaw, 31, come in several times in the weeks prior with copper piping and other copper products. Noel discovered that Shaw had sold more than 2,000 pounds of copper for more than $5,000 between July 10 and July 31, according to Booth’s records. Booth added that Shaw would arrive in a white Chevy Impala driven by someone else, and gave Noel the license number.
Noel performed a check on the Impala and discovered that Westborough police had spoken with the driver, Keefe Morrison, 29, on July 26. Later that same day, police received a report of a break-in less than a mile from where Morrison had been stopped by officials. According to the report, Shaw arrived at Schnitzer Scrap Metal with more copper pipes on July 30.
At that point, employees at Schnitzer Scrap Metal began to hold onto the copper that Shaw brought in. Noel examined the pieces and observed that several sections matched up with a home in Northborough.
On August 1, Detective Noel tracked Morrison’s car for a period of time. He noticed that the car appeared to be carrying a heavy load in its trunk. Schnitzer Scrap Metal reported later that Shaw and Morrison had brought in a “huge load” of copper. The following day, state police obtained a warrant and installed a GPS tracking device on Morrison’s car.
Investigators used the GPS tracker to monitor the car’s movements for roughly a week. Police also set up surveillance teams at several locations in Hudson where they believed the pair would strike. Police arrested Shaw and Morrison on August 7 outside a vacant home after witnessing them load copper into the car, according to the report.
During a recorded interview with police, Morrison gave a list of the homes they had broken into.
This content was originally published here.