Copper thefts arrest made
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Kidder Township burglary suspect Erick James Rivera, 22, leaves the office of District Judge Joseph D. Homanko in Weatherly, after being arraigned on charges that he allegedly stole copper pipes from nine Lake Harmony residences. Kidder Township Chief of Police Matthew R. Kuzma is walking with Rivera.
A Kidder Township man has been charged with breaking into nine homes in Lake Harmony and stealing copper water pipes.
Erick James Rivera, 22, of 136 Lake Drive, Lake Harmony, was arraigned Monday afternoon before District Judge Joseph D. Homanko of Weatherly.
He was charged with nine counts each of burglary, criminal trespass, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and possessing instruments of crime.
Homanko set bail at $10,000 straight per incident, or a total of $90,000. In lieu of the bail, Rivera was lodged in the Carbon County Correctional Facility.
In the event bail gets posted, Homanko placed numerous conditions including that Rivera have no contact with victims or witnesses.
Cpl. Neil Yurchak of the Kidder Township Police Department, the arresting officer, said the offenses occurred between Oct. 1, 2013, and March 15 of this year.
Yurchak said the copper pipe that was stolen had an accumulative value of $11,962.
Police said Rivera used pruning shears to cut the water line tubing.
Rivera took the copper to A.P.S. Recycling in Stroudsburg on several different occasions.
Rivera was brought to his arraignment by Yurchak and Kidder Township Chief of Police Matthew R. Kuzma. He said after his arraignment that he committed the thefts because he needed money.
Yurchak said in eight of the nine cases, Rivera entered unlocked crawl spaces of the homes. In one instance, the crawl space had just a small lock on it which Rivera allegedly was able to break.
The arrest of Rivera came after his vehicle was allegedly spotted by Officer Bott of the Kidder Township Police Department in the Laurel Woods development. Chief Kuzma and Cpl. Yurchak went to the residence of Rivera on March 17 and spoke with him.
Initially Rivera told police he was dropping a girl off in Laurel Woods. When asked by police if they could search his vehicle, he told police he did not have the keys to the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Also on March 17, Yurchak contacted A.P.S. Recycling. "A.P.S. informed me that Rivera had been there several times and has turned in scrap copper. A.P.S. informed me that the most recent had been on March 15, 2014, where he turned in copper pipe," Yurchak wrote in his affidavit,
The thefts occurred in Laurel Woods and Ridgewood Country Estates development. Most of the residences entered were summer homes, Yurchak said.
In the March 15 incident, Officer Woodside of the Kidder Police Department responded to a complaint for stolen copper water pipes at 490 and 491 Laurel Woods. The affidavit says, "Officer Woodside did notice that the crawl spaces were forced into and the copper water lines were removed."
Woodside spoke with the homeowner who said he had water at 5 p.m. March 14. The owner left the residence and returned at 11 p.m.
When he returned, he discovered that he had no water, police said.
When he went to investigate why he had no water, he discovered the copper tubing was missing from the basement crawl space.
Police believe that Rivera acted alone in the burglaries.
Police urged residents to secure their homes, including crawl spaces.