WOONSOCKET – Another copper clipper was in the can Thursday morning thanks to a tip from an alert citizen who heard someone rummaging in a vacant house in the Bernon section and called the police, they said.
Elias Herrera, 41, of Woonsocket, was arrested outside 350 Carrington Ave. at 6:19 a.m., said Detective Lt. Eugene Jalette.
“Herrera was captured while attempting to flee from a side entrance,” he said. “Inside the house there was evidence that Herrera was removing copper piping.”
Herrera was arraigned in District Court later in the day on charges of breaking and entering, possession of burglary tools and felony larceny. He was remanded to the Adult Correction Institutions pending a hearing on a Superior Court sentencing violation, Jalette said.
Police commended the citizen who called the police on Herrera, urging others to follow suit if they spot suspicious activity around unoccupied property.
“The theft of copper piping from vacant buildings has increased dramatically,” with 18 incidents reported since late October, Jalette said.
The comparatively high scrap value of copper, along with a plentiful supply of foreclosure properties, are apparently key factors in the trend.
Lou Porreca Jr. of L&R Scrap on River Street says the worth of scrap copper is still comparatively high, but not as high as it was just a few months ago. Since the latter part of the fall, the price of copper has ranged between $1.50 and $2 a pound.
“If you go back to September it was close to $4 a pound, then it took a big beating,” Porreca said. “That’s as high as it’s ever been.”
The price fluctuates on a daily basis according to demand on world markets, Porreca said.
At least three other people have been arrested for stealing scrap metal since late October, including two men who are believed to have absconded with some $30,000 worth of copper from the French Worsted demolition site.
Anyone with information about suspected copper thefts or related property crime should contact Detective Sgt. Tom Calouro or Detective Patrick Murray, Jalette said. Callers can reach the police at 766-1212 or convey information anonymously on the tip-line at 769-4444.