Police in northern Berks County have arrested five men believed to be behind a suspected copper theft ring.
Jeremy Miller, 31, Jeremy Bower, 28, Christopher Tiderman, 43, Kyle Schmehl, 28 and Joshua Brossman, 29, were collectively behind eight burglaries reported in and around Leesport since Dec. 2013, investigators said.
The suspects targeted vacant homes under foreclosure, in addition to GKS Realty and Appraisal Services of Leesport, while the business was under construction, said Det. Sgt. Brian Horner, Northern Berks Regional Police Department.
"They went to the extent of actually ripping out drywalls, taking down the drywalls in the bathroom and cutting out the copper piping from the showers, the sinks… I mean, they gutted a couple of the homes out big time," said Horner.
Horner said two suspects, Tiderman and Schmehl, are also linked to several metal scrap thefts reported by businesses in Leesport.
Horner told 69 News that the stolen copper and metal was then sold to local scrap yards, most often for drug money.
"The majority of them had drug issues," said Horner. "They were buying drugs with the money they were getting."
Horner told 69 News that scrap yard video surveillance was useful in the investigation. He said Tiderman was captured selling scrap copper piping and downspouts that were stolen from GKS one day earlier.
On Tuesday, 69 News spoke with GKS Owner Darryl Brown, who was pleased to learn of the arrests.
"I think it's really reassuring. There's some justice served," said Brown. "[I] couldn't be happier with how the police were able to deal with this."
Suspects are facing charges of burglary, criminal trespassing, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief and criminal conspiracy, police said.
Each waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.