Local Man Arrested For Copper Thefts

Police have arrested a local man on 45 criminal charges stemming from a recent string of 15 burglaries in which he and at least one other person allegedly stole copper piping from unoccupied buildings for the metal’s scrap value.

After learning that police held a warrant for his arrest, on the morning of August 22 Robert William Willis, 19, of 7 Pole Bridge Road, Sandy Hook, turned himself over to police at the police station and was charged with 15 counts of third-degree burglary, 15 counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary, and 15 counts of third-degree criminal mischief, police said.

Police have not recovered the stolen copper piping.

Police did not arrest Willis on any larceny charges, when considering that the copper piping stolen in the burglaries ostensibly was illegally sold to metal scrap dealers and would be difficult to identify.

Police said Willis’s arrest stems from their investigation into a January 14 theft.

The current market price for scrap copper tubing is about $2.50 per pound.

The copper thefts occurred at various properties across town.

In one May copper theft, in the process of stealing copper pipe from a house on Sugar Street, the thief  punctured a charged water pipe, resulting in pressurized water spraying out of the broken pipe, flooding the basement to a depth of about 30 inches, representing about 2,000 gallons of water spilled onto the floor.

Police have said that people who burglarize houses to steal copper know exactly what they want to do once inside a house and then do it quickly, typically evading capture.

The charges against Willis do not involve the theft of a large amount of scrap copper from Cochran House at Fairfield Hills, which happened earlier this year, police said.

Police said this week they expect to make another arrest in the copper thefts case. Police said that arrest would occur after they receive an arrest warrant from court.

On August 22, police held Willis on $75,000 bail for arraignment that day at Danbury Superior Court. In court Willis did not plead to the 45 charges. He was released on $15,000 bail for a September 18 court appearance.

Willis also is free on bail in connection with eight various criminal charges which have been lodged against him by Bethel police.

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