May 21, 2018
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Citizen tip leads to arrest of copper thief, Newport police say

Photo courtesy of Penobscot County Jail
Photo courtesy of Penobscot County Jail
Wendell Bradley
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — A tip from a concerned citizen led to a felony arrest Tuesday of a man who police said broke into a local home to steal copper and other valuable metals.

Wendell Braley, 45, of Newport, was arrested at around noon Tuesday by Newport Patrolman Phil Boyd and charged with burglary, receiving stolen property and theft, according to Newport Police Chief Leonard Macdaid. He was taken to the Penobscot County Jail but was released Tuesday evening on $150 bail.

Also charged in connection with the incident was James Tilley, 20, of Harmony, who was summoned for operating without a license and receiving stolen property.

Macdaid said his department has been watching an unoccupied home in Newport since it was first burglarized and stripped of pipes and copper wiring about six weeks ago. Macdaid declined to identify the home’s location because he feared it would become a target for other thieves.

After a call from a neighbor who noticed two men in a 1991 White Jeep Cherokee at the property, Officer Boyd located the vehicle nearby and found Braley and Tilley in it. According to Macdaid, the Jeep was freighted with copper, including radiators and wiring. Braley was arrested without incident.

Macdaid said this was at least the fifth Newport home to be burglarized for scrap metal and that there were numerous similar instances in surrounding towns.

“I think every town in this state is having a problem,” noted Macdaid, who said the midday heist Tuesday was a sign that scrap metal thieves are becoming more brazen.

“Usually this happens at night,” he said. “When you add in the bad economy and the cost of metal going up, you’ve got a scenario that’s not good.”

Macdaid estimated that there were several thousand dollars in damage to the home. He suggested that any Newport resident who is leaving a home vacant for any period of time contact the police department to request extra patrols and notify neighbors to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Braley faces a July 14 court date at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Tilley’s court date is June 29, according to Macdaid.

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