Three people arrested in connection with copper thefts

Three people arrested in connection with copper thefts

UPDATED 10 p.m. Friday

CHAMPAIGN — Three people have been arrested in connection with theft of copper and criminal damage at various homes and businesses in Champaign County.

According to a police report, Champaign and Urbana police and Champaign County sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant in the 500 block of West Beardsley Avenue, Champaign, on Friday as part of an investigation of the recent thefts.

Police arrested Verles D. Bolton, 46, of Champaign and Krystal L. Malone, 27, of Champaign for criminal damage to property.

Later on Friday police arrested Kendall T. Andrews, 33, of Champaign, in Urbana for criminal damage to property.

Champaign police Lt. Robert Rea said investigators suspect this group is responsible for numerous incidents of theft and criminal damage in the area.

He said police believe the group has been stealing copper and other valuable metals and then selling the materials to area salvage companies.

Rea said the group is believed to be responsible for thefts and damage to property in excess of $100,000 over the last six months.

Police are continuing the investigation, and Rea said police are looking for additional suspects.

Persons with information about the incidents area asked to call the Champaign Police Department at (217) 351-4545 remain anonymous by calling Champaign County Crimestoppers at (217) 373-8477 (TIPS).

Information may also be provided via internet at http://www.373tips.comor text information anonymously by texting CCTIP plus the information to 274637 (CRIMES).

Bolton is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 29 in connection with the theft of an estimated $11,000 worth of copper and brass fittings from a construction site at Prairie Elementary School in 2012.

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annabellissimo wrote on January 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

When are these people who buy the metals from thieves - or non-thieves - going to be held accountable for this kind of activity?  Aren't pawn shop owners held to a certain standard designed to eliminate the likelihood of their receiving stolen property? And why doesn't receiving these metals fall under the category of "receiving stolen property"?  This metal thievery has reached enormous proportion across the country and has caused a lot of loss, grief, destruction and danger and, by the way, it is just plain wrong - and illegal!  So, the punishment for the thieves needs to be big but there also needs to be punishment for their "partners in crime", those who receive and buy the metal. This IS another problem where government regulation and intervention is in order.

rsp wrote on January 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

In many cases the reason they know who the thieves are is because of the efforts of the businesses who buy scrap metal to document what was bought and from whom. Just because someone brings metal in doesn't mean it's stolen. But some things are obvious like the grates from the street. I don't believe any place local will take them but there were out of town places that were. That may have changed. In some other states they have started welding them in place or switching them to a secure polymer.