Local man charged with cutting copper piping from home

LEWISTON — Police and a code enforcement officer surrounded a house on Winter Street on Friday and arrested a man hiding in the basement, charging him with cutting out copper piping.

Shane Wilson, 32, of Lewiston, was arrested on charges of burglary and aggravated criminal mischief in a morning drama that began with a tip from a neighbor.

The investigation began three days ago, said police Cpl. Jeff Baril, who serves as a liaison with the city's Code Enforcement Office. On Tuesday, a Winter Street resident called police to report a suspicious vehicle parked near 111 Winter St.

Baril went to the house and found that it was vacant and unsecured. Investigating further, he discovered that someone recently had entered the house and had cut copper piping from the basement.

Copper theft has been a problem in recent years. Thieves steal piping and sell it for cash.

Baril teamed up with Code Enforcement Officer Tom Maynard and on Friday morning the pair returned to the house at 111 Winter St.

"We went back there to put a condemnation sticker on it," Baril said. "There were fresh footprints in the snow around the house."

There was more than that. Standing outside the house, Baril said he and Maynard could hear the copper thief at work inside.

"We could hear him sawing through the metal," Baril said.

A veteran Lewiston cop, Baril called for backup. Soon, several officers joined them. The officers found the burglar had locked the door.

"We had to force our way into the house," Baril said.

The ruckus alerted the culprit that his work had been detected. Police descended into the cellar, shouting for the suspect to give himself up, Baril said. He did not. Led by officer Eric Syphers, police searched the basement and within minutes, found their suspect.

"He was hiding beneath a work bench," Baril said.

Police also found a hack saw, clamps and metal cutters.

Wilson was arrested and booked at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.

Baril and Maynard have been working together, keeping an eye on vacant homes that could be targets for copper thieves. In recent years, such thefts have been a problem all over the country, as skyrocketing metal prices draw those looking for fast money. Thieves often target construction sites, vacant buildings and homes that have been recently foreclosed, ripping out wiring, cables, sprinkler, heating and cooling systems. The Department of Energy estimates the cost in damages and property loss at more than $1 billion nationwide.

"The thief might get $200 worth of copper," Baril said. "But they end up doing thousands of dollars worth of damage."

Friday's arrest was possible, he said, because someone took the time to report what looked like suspicious behavior.

"It's a case of neighbors paying attention," Baril said.

mlaflamme@sunjournal.com

Tom Maynard

Lewiston police on Friday arrested a local man whom they say was caught stealing copper from a vacant house on Winter Street. These tools were used in the theft, police said.

Tom Maynard

Pieces of copper piping lie in the basement of a vacant home on Winter Street in Lewiston. Police on Friday arrested Shane Wilson, 32, of Lewiston and charged him with cutting the pipes out of the house.

Tom Maynard

A piece of copper pipe lies in the basement of a vacant house on Winter Street in Lewiston. On Friday, police found a man hiding in the basement and charged him with cutting the piping out of the house.

Tom Maynard

Cut copper pipes are seen in the basement of a vacant house on Winter Street in Lewiston on Friday. Police found a man hiding in the basement and charged him with cutting copper piping out of the house.

Tom Maynard

Pieces of copper piping lie in the basement of a vacant home on Winter Street in Lewiston. Police on Friday arrested Shane Wilson, 32, of Lewiston and charged him with cutting the pipes out of the house.

Tom Maynard

A sawed-off copper pipe is among the damage found Friday in a vacant house on Winter Street in Lewiston. Police arrested 32-year-old Shawn Wilson of Lewiston and charged him with cutting copper piping in the house. Thousands of dollars worth of damage was done, police said.

Tom Maynard

Damaged and broken copper piping was found in the basement of a vacant home on Winter Street in Lewiston on Friday. Police arrested a man they found hiding there and charged him with the damage.

Tom Maynard

A length of copper piping is one of many pieces found cut out of a vacant house on Winter Street in Lewiston on Friday. Police found 32-year-old Shawn Wilson of Lewiston hiding in the basement and charged him with cutting the piping.

Androscoggin County Jail

Shane Wilson

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Comments

 's picture

Enough!

He should be ordered to pay to repair the damage. Anyone caught doing this needs to pay for the repairs. If these people have to pay to repair the pipes in just one vandalized property, I guarantee it they won't do it again. Jail time is too easy and a lesson is not learned. Insurance shouldn't need to bear the cost of this so it causes everyone's rates to increase.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If he had the money to pay

If he had the money to pay for the repairs or had any means of coming up with the money to pay for them, do you really think he'd be out stealing copper pipes from vacant homes? Throw is butt in jail for a couple of years.

Lenny Adams's picture

WTF

Too bad Shane couldnt put all that energy into a JOB...he could be a plumbers apprentice and cut all the copper pipe he wants and make some cash at the same time. What is wrong with people?

 's picture

Hope the judge that hear this

[This comment was removed by the administrator]

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