Over the past two years, the police blotter of The Sag Harbor Express has been riddled with accounts of stolen copper. Adding to the growing list of incidents, Gary Collins, 42, of Patchogue, was arrested last week by Sag Harbor Village Police for stealing several thousand dollars worth of copper wiring from Sag Harbor Industries. Since August, Collins has allegedly been stealing the metal from the company’s location at 60 Bay Street, where Sag Harbor Industries stored the material in the basement. Manual+Sports Physical Therapy, Innovative Diagnostics and Doctor John Oppenheimer operate out of the rest of the space.
Detectives with both Southampton and East Hampton Town Police said copper theft has been prevalent in the last couple of years.
“It is something that we have seen in the last two to three years. We started to see the trickling down effect of the economy,” noted East Hampton Town Police Detective Chris Anderson. He added, though, that the number of incidents involving copper correlates with the market price of the metal.
“There is a direct correlation between the value of the copper and what they can bring in at the salvage yard,” asserted Anderson. According to Bloomberg.com, the price of the metal has doubled over the past year and the current price hovers just over $3 per pound.
Sag Harbor Village Police say that on Tuesday, November 3, Collins lifted eight spools of copper wiring, worth around $5,250, from the basement of the Bay Street property. Police say Collins knew the copper was there because he had helped a friend install some wiring in the basement of the building earlier in the year. Sag Harbor Industries first learned of the theft when an employee at the physical therapy office noticed Collins taking several boxes out of the basement on October 23, said police. After an investigation, police report Collins came back to commit the November 3 theft. Police received a complaint on November 3 that a white male with white hair went into the basement and stole the spools of wiring. The man was said to have driven away in a Dodge van. Police were able to get the plate number of the vehicle. Sag Harbor Village Police put out a notice to other police agencies and Collins was caught by state police on Sunrise Highway. When Collins was pulled over, in addition to the copper, police allegedly found a glass pipe with what appeared to be crack-cocaine inside and prescription pills. Collins was also said to be in possession of a hypodermic needle.
Collins faces three counts of burglary in the third degree, a felony, three counts of grand larceny in the third degree, a felony, three counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, a felony, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a misdemeanor, and one count of criminal possession of a hypodermic needle, a misdemeanor. Village police say Collins was remanded to the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead, but later posted $5,000 bail.
Police also discovered that Regina Modelle, 29, of Ronkonkoma, helped Collins steal copper wiring from the Bay Street building on October 23 as well. Police say Modelle and Collins stole another eight spools of wiring, worth $5,250, during this incident. Modelle faces charges of burglary in the third degree, a felony, and grand larceny in the third degree, a felony. Modelle was also transported to the Suffolk County Jail, but later made her $700 cash bail.
Theft of copper from the area is not unusual. In late spring 2008, reports of copper theft from homes dominated the Sag Harbor Village and Southampton Town Police news. On April 16, 2008, a Prospect Street, Sag Harbor resident called Sag Harbor Village Police to report 100 feet of tubing and drain spouts, all copper and valued at $1,500, were removed from his property. On the same day, another Sag Harbor resident called Southampton Town Police to report one and a half sheets of lead coat copper valued at $350 was taken from the yard of a Rose Hill Road, Water Mill residence. Two days later, an Oak Lane, Bridgehampton resident called Southampton Town Police to report three copper leaders were taken from a residence there valued at $1,000.
On May 30, 2008, a Suffolk Street resident called Sag Harbor Village Police to report three-feet of copper drain pipes, valued at over $1,000, were removed from her residence. The following day a Madison Street resident reported four copper gutter downspouts were taken from the house and garden on her parcel. A Union Street resident called village police on June 1, 2008, to report 28-feet of copper downspouts were taken from his residence, including two 10-foot sections as well as an eight-foot section.
Above: Gary Collin and Regina Modelle’s mugshots.