Crime & Courts

Copper theft suspect arrested on return trip

There are legendary tales of criminal masterminds — and then there's the guy who tried to steal copper pipe from a rental house near downtown.

A 39-year-old maintenance man was working on a rental property in the 600 block of North St. Francis shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday when he noticed the door to a garage studio apartment was open across the street — and it shouldn't have been.

When he went to investigate, he found a man removing copper pipe from beneath the kitchen sink. The intruder claimed he was removing the pipe under the instruction of the owner, the maintenance man told property manager Kris Sims via cell phone.

But Sims said neither the owner nor the landlord had authorized any pipe removal, and the maintenance man told the intruder to leave. He noted the tag number and make of the car as the man drove off, then checked the house next to the garage apartment.

"He'd taken all the copper pipe out of the house already," Sims said.

The maintenance man called police, and an officer was on the scene taking a report when the suspect drove past the house in his green car. Both the officer and the maintenance man noticed, Sims said.

The officer took off and caught the suspect a short distance away.

He was booked into jail on suspicion of burglary and theft.