The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 31, 2012

Police: Addict admits stealing copper to pay for drugs

MILTON — A Milton man has been charged in Union and Northumberland counties for his alleged role in a recent slew of copper pipe thefts from homes in both locales.

Dennis Russell, 41, was arraigned in Union County at 1:40 a.m. Monday by District Judge Leo S. Armbruster and charged with burglary and conspiracy, both felonies.

Later Monday, in Northumberland County before District Judge Richard Cashman, Russell was arraigned on charges of burglary and criminal trespass, both felonies, and possession of an instrument of crime, a misdemeanor.

The Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department and Milton police collaborated on the investigation, which continues.

In Lewisburg, 13 burglaries were reported within a week in a four-block radius of South Sixth and South Seventh streets. The homes primarily are rented to Bucknell University students.

Milton police brought in Russell for questioning at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday after he was seen near a home on Broadway in Milton, according to an affidavit filed by the Buffalo Valley police.

About an hour earlier, a caller reported seeing him leave the home through a window and flee the area. A search found a large amount of copper pipe lying beside the dwelling, looking like it had just been cut, according to the affidavit.

Russell allegedly told Milton officers that he has been involved in several copper pipe thefts in the Milton area.

Later, he allegedly told Buffalo Valley police that he took part in six break-ins along South Sixth Street in Lewisburg.

Russell said he and an accomplice sold the copper to Staiman Recycling in Williamsport and that he used the money to support his heroin habit, the affidavit states. No information was released on the accomplice.

Richard Staiman, president of Staiman Recycling, said he is not aware of purchases of stolen copper pipe, “but if the individual did bring it in, there is a chain of evidence we keep,” including scanning a customer’s driver’s license, to aid police in an investigation.

“There is a complete chain of evidence from the time they come in to the time they leave,” he said. “If the police come and ask to investigate, it’s all there.”

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of crime, and it adds to our cost of doing business,” Staiman said, noting the company will turn over any purchased material the police say is stolen.

“We would never knowingly buy something stolen,” he said.

Russell is being held in the Northumberland County Prison, Sunbury, in lieu of $40,000 bail. At first, he was in the Union County Jail, Lewisburg, in lieu of $10,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 9.

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