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Man charged in Pa. copper thefts waives preliminary hearing

October 08, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A man charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper and steel cable from Allegheny Power facilities and cell tower sites over the past several months waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday in Franklin County Central Court.

Timothy Lee Taylor Jr., 32, of no fixed address, is charged by Pennsylvania State Police with 15 counts of theft, along with charges of fleeing and eluding police, receiving stolen property, criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Taylor is being held in Franklin County Jail on $10,000 bond.

Police said they had been investigating a series of thefts of wire from the substations and towers, and at 3:15 a.m. Sept. 29, troopers on patrol were looking for a gold Saturn believed to be a vehicle used in the thefts. It was spotted near an Allegheny Power substation on Wilkson Lane in Guilford Township, police said.

Police saw fresh tire tracks in the grass near the substation and turned around to find the Saturn. The car was spotted again going east on U.S. 30, and police followed it onto Pa. 997 and Brownsville Road. The driver fled back onto U.S. 30 heading west, turned north on Mont Alto Road, through the parking lot of Fayetteville (Pa.) Elementary School and into a grass field before getting back onto U.S. 30 going east.

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The vehicle then went onto Chickentown Road and into a cornfield before hitting a silage pile, police said. The driver fled on foot and police could not find him that night, but one of the troopers recognized him as Taylor and the car was registered to him, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Speeds during the chase reached more than 100 mph, police said.

Several rolls of copper wire were found in the car's back seat, police allege. Additionally, an Allegheny Power security official told police that the rolls had white spray paint on them to make them easily identifiable, police said.

The 8-foot fence around the substation, topped with concertina wire, had been cut, police said. A security camera also recorded images of a man inside the fence at 3 a.m.

Assistant District Attorney Bret Beynon said more charges had been added to Taylor's criminal complaint since he was taken into custody. It stated that Taylor entered substation and tower sites throughout Franklin and Adams counties, removing at various times quantities of wire valued at $200 to $500.

The wire stolen from the Wilkson Lane substation on Sept. 29 was worth $1,000, according to police, but the amount of wire taken from that site in a Sept. 17 theft amounted to $13,400.

The 15 thefts took place between May 19 and Sept. 29 at towers and substations and other sites in the boroughs of Chambersburg, Waynesboro and Greencastle; St. Thomas, Antrim, Greene, Guilford and Peters townships in Franklin County; and Franklin Township in Adams County.

On Aug. 20, police got a call from American Recycling in Waynesboro, Pa., informing them that a man known as "Tim" was bringing in "odd" types and amounts of copper, the affidavit stated. The business eventually obtained the license number of the man's vehicle, which police said was registered to Taylor.

The business also notified police after Taylor came in on Sept. 22 with large rolls of copper wire, police said. A person interviewed by police told them on Monday that Taylor "bragged" to him about the thefts.

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