A Rush Township man charged with being part of a gang which burglarized four vacant homes and a warehouse in Rush Township went on trial Monday before Judge John E. Domalakes in the Schuylkill County court.

Frederick Andrew Postie, 42, of 625 Fairview St., is charged with burglary, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and criminal conspiracy with two co-conspirators with entering the four vacant premises, a garage, and warehouse and the removal of copper pipes, electric wires, copper coils from furnaces and causing damages to the properties.

The burglaries occurred during the period from Dec. 12, 2011, through Jan. 22, 2012, and the stolen items were sold to a scrap dealer.

The two people charged with being the co-defendants testified against Postie.

Stephanie L. Keck testified she and Kerry L. Frank, of Summit Hill, with whom she cohabited, and Postie went to the homes they knew to be vacant and stripped them of copper. She said she served as a lookout and communicated with them when they were inside the homes with a walkie talkie radio. Keck claimed they did the jobs to get money because both had drug habits. She claimed tools they stole were sold to a drug dealer for drugs and the copper to a scrap dealer.

Frank gave more details on the burglaries. He said he was employed by the Tamaqua Transfer Company and his route to pick up thrash was in the Rush Township areas.

He said he was able to determine which homes were vacant and also checked the newspapers of sheriff sales of homes because they usually were vacant and also the Internet to find out about families vacationing.

He described how they entered the homes late at night using miner lamps to see and had cut saws and wrenches to dismantle the pipes and wiring in the homes.

It said the operation in each home lasted between one and two hours. He identified Postie being with him in at least two of the homes.

Frank testified he had no problem selling the items to a scrap dealer because he had an account from previous transactions of finding copper items during his thrash collections. The copper was taken to a scrap dealer in Pottsville and others in Luzerne and Lehigh counties.

Rush Sgt. Duane Frederick Frederick, whose investigation led to the arrest of the trio, testified of obtaining statements from Frank and Postie. Frank told him Postie was involved. Postie came to the police and told of Frank and Keck being involved. He produced statements from both men implicating each other.

Owners of properties burglarized testified as to damages they suffered.

David L. Mazaika Jr., testified he was renovating the property at 268 E. Main St., and removed were a variety of tools, copper baseboard, copper coil, and electrical wiring and placed the cost of items taking around $7,000 and damage to his property around $15,000.

George Mermon, Lake Hauto Development, testified he was the executor of the property at 714 Claremont Ave. from were copper pipes, electrical wiring, baseboard heating elements, and components in a boiler were removed which cost $25,000 to repair.

Also, from an adjoining warehouse copper piping, heating elements, and an oil unit were removed costing $17,000 to repair.

Derek Zukovich testified from his property at 458 Fairview St., which was vacant and being remodeled, copper pipes and wiring were removed valued at $5,924.11 and tools from a shed.