Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 27, 2014

3 arrested in copper thefts

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — One day after tweeting a request for help in his pursuit of suspects in a case involving the theft from a business located in the Bluefield, Va., Industrial Park, an alert deputy made a routine traffic stop that led to three arrests in the investigation.

Deputy Andrew Jarvis of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office was patrolling the Bluefield, Va., Industrial Park on the Jan. 22, as part of the sheriff’s office’s efforts to beef up surveillance in the area. At approximately 8:30 p.m., Jarvis conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the parking lot of Marshall Miller & Associates. The vehicle’s registration was in violation.

Jarvis observed that the three male occupants of the vehicle — Jerry Lucas, 33, of Boissevain, Va.; Jerry Mitchem, 27, of Anawalt; and James Lowmark, 23, of Princeton — were in possession of burglary tools. A subsequent search of the vehicle by a deputy and K-9 team resulted in the discovery of a small quantity of narcotics.

“It was just good police work on the part of Deputy Jarvis,” Major Harold Heatley, chief deputy of the Tazewell Sheriff’s Office said.

Jarvis transported the three suspects to the Bluefield, Va., Police Department where Detective Adam Crouse interviewed them. “During the interviews, two of the individuals stated they had broken into Blizzards Inc., and E.I.S. to steal copper. According to their statements, two of the suspects broke into Blizzards Inc., on (Jan. 14), but left when they activated the alarm system,” according to the press release of the incident.

“Later that evening, they returned and broke into E.I.S., stealing 1,419 pounds of copper,” according to the press release. “The cooper, which was packaged on spools was taken to one of the suspect’s home and removed from the spools. The stolen copper was then taken to Brushfork Recycling and sold for $4,100. According to suspect statements, the three were planning to break into E.I.S. again on the night they were caught.”

“They were greedy,” Heatley said. “They had just got $4,100 from the copper they stole before, and were coming back for more.” The suspects had removed screws from the siding of the E.I.S. building to gain access.

“Brushfork Recycling were cooperative,” Heatley said. “Virginia has changed the law concerning scrap metals being sold at recycling centers. I think that’s why we have so much of this going out of state.”

Lucas and Mitchem were charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny, conspiracy to commit breaking and entering and conspiracy to commit grand larceny, according to Heatley. “Lowmark was charged with conspiracy to commit breaking and entering and conspiracy to commit grand larceny. The case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending.

All three suspects are being held in the Southwest Regional Jail in Tazewell, Va.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com