2012-06-14 / Other News

Suspect Is “Scrapped” While Caught In The Act

By Dara Mormile

If you’re a fan of the Brooklyn reality TV show called “Scrappers,” you know firsthand that there’s a lot of money to be made in selling scrap metal. However, what was going on in Canarsie for the past few months was not part of a reality show.

A 45-year-old homeless man was arrested this week in connection to a possible string of thefts involving scrap metal and copper wires from vacant homes.

The man, who police said was allegedly also responsible for at least four other similar thefts in Canarsie, was apprehended after a real estate agent discovered he was rummaging around a vacant home Monday afternoon and he was caught red handed ripping materials from the walls.

Police from the 69th Precinct said they received a call from a real estate agent at one of the vacant homes that were for sale in the southwest section of Canarsie. According to reports, the agent noticed that a man had broken into the house and was in the process of taking copper wiring from the walls. The agent then attempted to chase the man off of the property and he put up a fight.

Fortunately, the real estate agent was not injured and called 9-1-1. Police arrived in time to arrest the suspect who was then brought into the precinct stationhouse. He admitted to police that he stole, and then sold, materials from other vacant properties as well.

The suspect, who lives in the 73rd Precinct, even provided police with a receipt he had from a scrap yard on Preston Court where he claimed to have sold most of the stolen wires and pipes.

The precinct’s Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon addressed the issue last March at several community meetings after a rash of vandalism cases were on the rise. At the time, residents complained that they saw what seemed to be suspcious men walking around Canarsie pushing shopping carts with copper wire, ceiling piping and boiler parts.

Reports of vandalism came into the precinct from different land developers and contractors as well who hadn’t yet turned the vacant properties over to banks or real estate businesses. Many real estate agents and landlords filed complaints with the precinct, as the thefts left many homes in poor condition and they could no longer sell the property.

In addition to looking out for strange activity around vacant houses, residents are asked to be vigilant of unfamiliar cars on their blocks that are parked near homes undergoing construction. Fitzgibbon noted that most of these thefts take place during the day when many residents are at work.

Anyone with information on these thefts is asked to call the 69th Precinct Detective’s Squad at 718-257-6215. All calls will be kept confidential.

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