ATKINSON — A Sandown man is the prime suspect in as many as eight copper thefts in four different towns, police said yesterday.
So far, Teddy Willette, 32, only faces two Class B felony charges of driving with a suspended license while a habitual offender. But local police said yesterday they expect to charge him soon with burglary charges in multiple cases.
Atkinson police Sgt. Patrick Caggiano said Willette is suspected of breaking into homes that were in foreclosure or unoccupied and for sale, stripping out the copper piping and selling it as scrap.
Over the past six weeks, one home in Atkinson, two in Hampstead, one in Plaistow, and three or four in Sandown were broken into and damaged when the copper was removed, he said.
“Right now, he’s the prime and sole suspect in all of these cases,” Caggiano said yesterday. “We anticipate charging him.”
So do police in Hampstead and Plaistow.
Sandown police Sgt. Aurie Roy said she couldn’t comment because her department has yet to interview Willette, but did acknowledge there have been three or four copper thefts in that town recently.
The copper was sold as scrap at Winfield Alloy, a metal recycling business in Atkinson, police said. Employees there told Officer Stephen Lundquist that Willette had sold a lot of copper scrap to them over the past six weeks.
A surveillance camera recorded Willette driving on Winfield Alloy property Oct. 31 and police knew his license was under suspension, Caggiano said. An arrest warrant was issued for Willette on the charge of operating under suspension while a habitual offender.
On Nov. 2, Willette was again captured on surveillance video driving on Winfield Alloy property, Caggiano said. Willette was arrested after a second trip to the company that same day.
“Winfield Alloy has been very cooperative,” Caggiano said. “Once we learned his name, we distributed it with an information-sharing tool we have. Then we started getting inquiries from other departments.”