COLONIE: Copper caper leads to five arrests

A monthlong investigation into the theft of tens of thousands of dollars in copper wire resulted in the arrest of five individuals, a joint task force announced last week.

Menands police, in conjunction with the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, National Grid security, CSX Transportation security and Rensselaer and Albany County sheriffs' departments announced the arrest of five individuals who in December 2006 allegedly stole nearly $100,000 in copper wire from several National Grid sites.

Arrested were: Ian A. Dell, 18, of Averill Park, Quinn A. Lashway, 18, and Reed Lashway, 17, both of East Greenbush, and the group's alleged ringleader, Jeremy J. Roberts, 23, of Averill Park.

All have been arrested on felony charges of grand larceny and criminal mischief, including misdemeanor trespassing and possession of burglary tools.

According to police, the four went on a monthlong spree, raiding National Grid's main yard in Troy and several substations throughout Albany County.

Roberts, who has run into legal problems before for stealing precious metal utilities and selling them for scrap, was caught in the act Dec. 10 at the utility company's main facility in Troy, said police.

They entered the National Grid property, cut spools (of wire) into lengths they could carry and burn in under darkness, said Menands Police Chief Michael O'Brien.

The four arrested allegedly cut through the gates of the National Grid sites and, using industrial cutting tools stolen from a CSX rail yard in Selkirk, cut thousand-yard spools of 1-1/4-inch copper wire into roughly 1-foot lengths. They would return the next day, cut through the gates and collect the bounty. It was then taken to hilltops in Rensselaer County and burned to remove the rubber shields, said police.

"It was a rural area, and they did it under the cover of darkness so no one would notice the smoke," said Craig R. Masterson, security manager of National Grid's eastern branch.

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