Copper became a hot commodity during the recession and although prices have since leveled, they remain quite high. Many people think that taking copper from abandoned buildings in order to sell it is a victimless crime, but authorities in New Jersey feel differently and they doggedly pursue copper thieves.

For example, Vineland police recently worked with the New Jersey State Police Laboratory in order to identify DNA evidence from the scene of a copper theft.

A 30-year-old Mays Landing man has been charged with theft and burglary as a result of the DNA analysis. He stands accused of breaking into two houses last spring and taking copper piping out of the basements. At least one of the homes had been foreclosed, and both were unoccupied at the time.

It is not clear what type of DNA evidence Vineland police collected at the houses. A news report states only that the evidence pointed to the Mays Landing man and that police believe he had no legal purpose for being inside the houses.

The severity of a theft conviction tends to depend on whether a weapon was involved and the amount of theft. A burglary charge, however, raises a theft crime to a second-degree or even third-degree offense, even when weapons were not used and regardless of the amount of theft.

While burglary is a serious charge, strong criminal defense strategies are available. This is true even in cases that involve scientific evidence, such as a DNA match. In some cases, it is possible to resolve a theft charge without a conviction and/or without a criminal record.

Source: NJ.com, “Vineland Police: DNA leads to arrest of copper piping burglar,” Don E. Woods, Oct. 11, 2013