Police arrest pair in stolen scrap metal operation in Brackenridge
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 12:51 a.m.
State police Wednesday arrested the second half of a pair they say were stealing and cutting up I-beams.
State police from Butler arrested Travis Black, no age available, of Roup Avenue, Brackenridge when they arrived at his home with a search warrant.
Police had previously arrested Black's friend, Ryan Stepp, of Clinton Township on Tuesday. Stepp, 31, was in the Butler County jail on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.
Shortly after 5 p.m., a state police car pulled up in front of Black's house in the 700 block of Roup, and police over a loudspeaker ordered Black to surrender.
He and a woman in the house quickly came out, and Black was taken into custody without incident.
Trooper Mike Taylor said the investigation that led to Black's arrest began with an anonymous call on Nov. 28.
Taylor said police went to Stepp's property in Clinton Township, where they allegedly found Stepp and Black cutting up I-beams.
Police say the I-beams belonged to Brayman Construction in Clinton. Taylor would not say where they were taken from.
Taylor said Black used an engine hoist to load the 5-to-6-foot beams into a truck, and take them to Stepp's property. Black and Stepp would then cut them up together, Taylor said.
Taylor said Black confessed to stealing the I-beams. Black was released because he was cooperating, but Taylor said police later determined Black was allegedly stealing more than he had admitted to.
Police were searching Black's home and a detached garage into Wednesday night. Taylor would not comment on what had been found.
Trooper Dan Kesten said Black would be charged with theft. He was to be taken to Butler to be processed and arraigned.
Melissa Elliott, a neighbor on Horner Street, said she had seen Black bring pieces of vehicles to his home late at night and proceed to cut them up into the early morning hours.
“We'd watch Travis dismember stuff. Where does Travis get this stuff? It's crazy,” she said. “Where does this man come up with these big pieces of metal?”
Elliott said Black moved to the house at Roup and Horner after losing his home in a fire.
Black had lived in an apartment at 869 First Ave., Brackenridge, over his garage, TB Auto.
Elliott said they tried to befriend Black after he moved to the area. She said he wasn't rude, but he kept to himself. The activity at his garage raised her suspicions.
“There was always something interesting going on,” she said. “Something needed to be done. We were sick of it, sick of the noise.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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