EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 26, 2013

Thief climbs roof to steal copper from steel mill

LAWRENCE — As far as Samuel Facella is concerned, crime has reached a new high in the city’s downtown area.

A thief climbed up to the slate rooftop of his family-owned steel mill at 600 Essex St. this week — perhaps twice — to steal the antique copper flashing from the century-old building that houses Flametech Steels Inc.

“This guy has gotta be ‘Spider-Man’ to get up there, because it’s as high as any church steeple,” said Facella, 53, president of the company.

“It’s over 60 feet in the air. I can’t imagine anyone being comfortable up there. The talent and ability this guy had to get up there is like an acrobatic feat. No one in their right mind would have that much confidence. I’d be scared without safety lines attached. I wouldn’t do it and I’m a former iron worker,” he said.

Facella said he encountered the fearless thief at about 1 p.m. on Wednesday after returning from lunch. He recalled hearing some noise, thinking it was the wind. So, he went outside to check, just in time to see something coming off the roof.

He noticed a man holding the copper material. The stranger told him he had found it on the ground.

But, then he looked up and saw another man up on the roof, who was throwing the copper material down to the man on the ground.

“My family has been running a steel mill in Lawrence since 1960, and I’ve never seen this kind of marauding behavior,” Facella said.

“I’ve never seen anything this bizarre. I couldn’t believe it. A guy is up on the roof, risking his life for short money. You could have robbed a bank easier,” he said.

The startled thief climbed down from the roof. Facella figured he had the crook cornered and could keep an eye on him until the police arrived. Soon after calling emergency 911, he said he told the suspect that officers would soon be arriving to arrest him.

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