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Maryland State Police News Release

Maryland State Police Arrest Three For Copper Wire Theft In Prince George’s County

(Lanham, MD) – Maryland State Police arrested three men early this morning in connection with the theft of copper wire from light poles and jersey walls in Prince George’s County.

The accused are identified as Mark Brunelle, 52, of Brooklyn, Maryland, Joseph Wetzel, 45, of Rocky Ridge, Maryland and James Albert, 38, of Perryville, Maryland.  Brunelle and Wetzel were charged with theft $1,500-$25,000, theft scheme $1,500-$25,000 and malicious destruction of property of more than $1,000.  Albert was charged with theft $1,500-$25,000, theft scheme $1,500-$25,000, malicious destruction of property of more than $1,000 and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Shortly before 2:30 a.m. this morning a Maryland State Trooper from the College Park Barrack was on patrol in Prince George’s County. He noticed a 2003 Mercury Marquis on the westbound side of Route 50 at I-495, parked on the shoulder and unattended in an area of the road where several street lights were not illuminated.

As the trooper approached the scene in his marked patrol car, he noticed two men outside of the vehicle carrying rolls of copper wire.  When two of the men, later identified as Wetzel and Albert saw the trooper, they dropped the copper and got into the Mercury.  Brunelle was sitting in the driver’s seat and preparing to leave the scene.

When asked what they were doing, the men informed the trooper they were rolling up wire which had fallen out of their vehicle.  The trooper inspected the scene and noticed where the suspects had cut the wire from inside the light poles and jersey wall at that location.  The trooper immediately notified the barrack of the possible copper wire theft and back-up was dispatched to his location.

The three men were arrested on scene and transported to the College Park Barrack for processing.  Crime scene technicians from the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division are processing the large amount of copper wire recovered from the scene and the 2003 Mercury Marquis.

The total cost to replace the copper removed this morning is approximately $400,000.  Due to the large amount of property damage and the ongoing investigation, the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division will lead the investigation. Police ask anyone with information relevant to this investigation to contact D/Sgt. Pietanza of the College Park Barrack at 301-345-3101.


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