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Alert Scrapyard Owner Helps Police Catch Copper Thief

DERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- Hundreds of pounds of copper wiring was stolen in Derry Township, costing thousands of dollars in damage, but an alert scrapyard owner helped police make the bust.

State police say the copper started to disappear en masse in December at C&D Coal Company in Derry. Someone cut a large hole in the side of the building, grabbing a significant amount of high value metals.

Not long after, state police told local scrap dealers in the area to be on the look-out.

"We had a heads up what to look for," Duffy Friedlander, owner of Daniels and Miller, Inc., said.

Friedlander's family has been in the scrap business since 1888. He's seen it all, including when 29-year-old Jesse James Jones came in to cash some copper.

Normally when people drop wire off at Daniels and Miller, it's thin gauge stuff, nothing too impressive. So when Jones showed up, they had a couple questions.

"It's not something the average Joe comes in here with," Friedlander said. "Actually, our warehouse man came to see me and said, 'I think we have your guy down here.'"

Friedlander and his folks had to figure out a way to extend Jones's stay until police showed up.

"We just worked very slowly," Friedlander said. "Very slowly. We took a while to get off his truck, a while to put it on the scale…"

The delay tactic worked.

"They pulled down and blocked him in," Friedlander said. "He stood there and denied everything."

But Jones eventually admitted to the coal company thefts and one at a West Penn power sub-station. State police are now trying to figure out who Jones's alleged accomplice was, who bailed on his partner when police showed up.

"He casually walked away to blend into the woodwork," Friedlander said.

Jones is in the Westmoreland County Jail charged with theft.

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