KINGSTON — A local man was caught stealing copper wire that fell from utility poles during last weekend's storm, police said.
Bruce Rubin, 51, of 43 Route 125 in Kingston faces a charge of misdemeanor theft for stealing copper wire along Route 125 that had been knocked off utility poles, police Chief Donald Briggs said.
The theft of the wire, which was worth less than $500, was one of a number of crimes of opportunity police said they saw while people evacuated their homes for local shelters or a relative's home with electricity. Briggs said copper wire has been a popular commodity for thieves in recent months for its resale value at local scrap dealers.
Kingston wasn't alone in seeing such crimes over the weekend. In Plaistow, two homes were burglarized Saturday and Sunday.
About 9:30 p.m. Saturday, a woman living at 2 Newton Road found her home had been broken into while she was at work, said Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones. Electricity to the home was knocked out from the storm, Jones said.
A prescription of oxycodone, two cameras, and a coffee can half full of change was taken, Jones said.
Police are seeking anyone with information about the incident.
On Sunday morning, a homeowner at 30 Main St. reported someone tried to break into the garage with a pry bar, but had no luck getting in. Instead, the thief took two large Christmas decorations and an inflatable figure from a Santa's village-style display.
The decorations were worth about $400, Jones said.
Police in several Southern New Hampshire towns said they were well aware that the lack of electricity makes homes and businesses more vulnerable to theft.
That's especially true in smaller towns such as Newton and Pelham, where smaller police departments have been taxed with round-the-clock shifts since Friday.
"We've had nothing. We were lucky," said Pelham police Lt. Gary Fisher of storm-related crimes. "We told our patrol guys in advance to be very vigilant."
Security alarms regularly go off during power outages or when nearby electric lines are being worked on. Police have the responsibility for checking out every one of them. Plaistow police got 66 such calls between Thursday and Sunday night, Jones said.
"You have to go to these to make sure nobody is breaking in, so the guys have been very busy," she said.
Briggs called in the National Guard on Sunday night to help his officers patrol Kingston overnight to prevent homes and businesses without power from being targeted by enterprising burglars or thieves. They also have been assisting in going door-to-door around Great Pond Park, where residents were especially hit hard.
"We wanted to be proactive in bringing additional resources necessary to care for and protect our citizens," Briggs said.
Nearly half of Kingston remains without electricity, forcing some residents to turn to a local shelter set up by the American Red Cross at Sanborn Regional High School.
Six National Guard soldiers are patrolling with police officers to not only thwart crime, but also to look out for more storm-related hazards as the town continues its dayslong cleanup. Briggs said their presence is paying off.
A guardsman heard an alarm about 5:30 a.m. yesterday, only to find a home with a burst water pipe.