Ring accused in operation to steal copper in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette counties
Nearly a dozen people have been implicated as participants in a ring of thieves who are accused of targeting large, vacant commercial buildings throughout Allegheny, Westmoreland and Fayette counties, stealing copper wiring and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
The stolen wire was taken to burn pits at a community park on the South Side Slopes and along railroad tracks in Baldwin Borough, where fires were set to burn off the insulation. The wire was cooled before being taken to metal companies in Pittsburgh, Carnegie and McKeesport for sale.
Not all of the thefts involved vacant structures.
According to information filed by investigators from the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and Pittsburgh police in the criminal complaints:
Spools of wire, along with tools from four trucks, were taken in December from a West Penn Power Co. facility in Jeannette.
On at least five occasions, the thieves stole wire from wooden spools kept in unlocked storage containers on Port Authority of Allegheny County property along West Warrington Avenue on Mt. Washington. Lookouts, equipped with a portable radio system or walkie-talkies, were posted for the thefts.The thieves broke into the vacant Beltzhoover Elementary School in October but fled empty-handed when the burglar alarm activated.
Ring members are accused of stealing copper from the following vacant buildings: the Circuit City and Sears stores in Wilkins; Copperweld Factory in Glassport; Maxi-Saver Theater in West Mifflin; Levin Furniture store in Monroeville; the Ames building in the Laurel Mall near Connellsville; and the JCPenney store in Lower Burrell.
Ring members fled when police arrived on Dec. 21 at the vacant Westinghouse Printing Co. in Trafford, leaving behind two vehicles filled with copper. They later reported both vehicles stolen and then stole one of the vehicles, which was impounded at a Trafford garage, and drove it to a baseball field off Mission Street on the South Side Slopes where they burned it in an attempt to mislead investigators.
State court records on Monday show that charges have been filed against a number of suspected ring members but that not all have been taken into custody.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Waivers granted for Garden Theater block development
- Baldwin students take in film on Nobel Peace Prize winner’s activism for girls, education
- Wilkinsburg minister raided for drugs and guns, charged with 18 felonies
- Suit seeks $5M from McKeesport authority
- Pittsburgh zoo receives $9M gift — largest ever — from Mellon Foundation
- Newsmaker: Sanford Asher
- Trial scheduled in beating of black man at T station
- Downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s donates bits of history
- Pittsburgh’s bike sharing service starts off healthy
- Pittsburgh International Airport to focus on attracting new airlines, increasing facility’s usage
- Siblings sue over gas rights in Jefferson Hills land parcel