West Deer police stop nets $200K in bottle-making molds
Two West Deer police officers are credited with confiscating at least $200,000 worth of parts for a bottle-making machine stolen in Shaler.
Sgt. Frank Huffman was driving to a call in mid-June when he spotted a West Deer man, Michael Currie, 26, of Russellton, who was wanted for burglary by Northern Regional police, driving an SUV. Huffman, assisted by Patrolman Brian Dobson, pulled Currie over.
West Deer police knew Currie — they had arrested him several times. They knew he uses the alias of Michael Curry and has been charged under that name. But police said they were intrigued by what was inside Currie's vehicle.
Police spied hundreds of gleaming softball-sized, semi-circular brass machine parts on their way to the scrap yard. The 600 or so pounds of brass alloy would fetch $1.80 per pound at a scrap yard — far less than their value as precision parts.
When they counted, there were 640 individual parts.
“We knew they were machined, but we didn't know what they were used for or where they came from. So we didn't have a victim,” Chief Jon Lape said. “We at first thought maybe they were used in drilling. Maybe they came from a Marcellus shale driller.”
Dobson took photos and turned to the Internet to solve the mystery.
That's when Shaler police got involved.
Long before he became a Shaler police officer, David F. Benko worked at the Glenshaw Glass factory. He immediately recognized the valuable mystery brass.
“It was 320 pairs of bottle mold neck rings,” said Benko, now a detective with 36 years wearing a badge.
The molds are used to form glass bottles for screw top lids, he said.
Benko knew someone had broken into the Kellman Bottles plant, at 1101 William Flynn Highway, Shaler — three times.
Huffman said the mold neck rings were returned to the company. Currie will have to pay for the hundreds he is accused of taking in earlier trips to the plant.
A company official wasn't available for comment.
“We appreciate the information that helped our investigation,” Benko said.
“This was simply good police work,” Lape said Friday.
On Thursday, Currie waived to court three charges each of burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.