SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A great deal of metal items of all descriptions are stolen – from work sites, backyards and the outside storage areas of many kinds of businesses – to be sold as scrap and most of the anonymous metal disappears but a town man is facing larceny charges after he allegedly stole a distinctive item from a neighbor who took the trouble to search for his property at a local scrap yard.
Det. Sgt. Robert Landis said recently that the problem of thieves stealing metal items for ‘scrapping’ is “huge.”
“People are going around stealing things off your property” he said, because “anything that’s metal has a monetary value” and thieves will steal anything they can scrap, items ranging from irrigation piping, sections of fence or, in a recent case he investigated, an old copper water heater.
Officer Greg Burt, who worked with Landis on the case, reports in a court document that the theft came to police attention in August, 2013, and the victim later reported that he believed he had found the copper tank stolen from the front yard of his Logie Lane property at a Westfield scrap yard.
Landis and the victim visited the scrap yard after the property owner showed police where the copper tank had been before it was stolen, out of sight from the road and about 150 feet into the property.
Staff at the scrap yard provided records of a transaction which had been video-recorded and Landis viewed the recording which showed “two white teenage males unloading a cylindrical shape (sic) object … from the bed of a dark colored pickup truck.”
The victim told Landis that the item seen on the video recording resembled his stolen tank which scrap yard employees reported had been cut up into manageable pieces for scrapping.
The victim was able to find in the bins of scrap metal a piece which included a fitting he said had been used to bleed air off the tank when it was used.
The technician also said that he had removed electrical boxes from the tank he cut up which matched the description provided by the victim of attachments to his stolen tank.
Landis reports that when he viewed the video he recognized both young men who he identified as Grady Hughes of 18 Pearl Brook Road and Liam Morrissey of 174 South Loomis Street.
The scrap yard’s documents showed that Hughes had been paid $116.60 for the heater two days after the heater was reported stolen from Logie Lane which is directly across the street from Morrissey’s home on South Loomis Street.
When police and the victim went to Morrissey’s home, Burt reports that the victim immediately pointed out an antique copper washing machine which he said had been in his home on Logie Lane as recently as two days earlier.
Landis advised Morrissey at that time that he had been seen on video with Hughes and a copper water tank and, Burt reports, “Morrissey’s response was that he thought it was brass.”
When Landis discussed the washing machine with Morrissey the suspect said that he needed the money because he is not working and “maintained that he never entered the home and the washing machine had been at the end of the driveway” so he thought it was abandoned property.
Burt reports that “the condition of the machine was such that it could not have been in the open environment for a substantial amount of time as there was no corrosion or signs of wear from the elements.”
Hughes was interviewed at the station by Burt who reports that the man said “that he was a scrapper and had been scrapping for some time.”
He told Burt that Morrissey had called him for help getting a piece of scrap to the Westfield scrap yard and he helped Morrissey load it on to his truck and unload it after he had taken it to the scrap yard.
He acknowledged that he signed the receipt for payment.
Morrissey was summoned to Westfield District Court to answer charges of receiving stolen property valued less than $250 and larceny of property valued less than $250.
He was arraigned Jan. 29 before Judge Philip A. Contant and was released on his personal recognizance pending an April 15 hearing.
If found guilty of the receiving stolen property charge, under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 60/B, could be sentenced to a term not longer than two and a-half years in the house of correction.
Under Section 30/C, the penalty for conviction of the larceny charge could result in a one-year term.
Media Credit: The Westfield News