Investigation leads to arrest in copper thefts - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Investigation leads to arrest in copper thefts

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -- Observation and keen investigative skills recently led a patrol officer from the Dalton Police Department to make an arrest in a series of at least two thefts of copper wire from air conditioning units in the area of Glenwood Avenue. 

Evidence collected during the investigation may lead to the clearance of at least one other case, and his efforts in these cases led to him being named the department's officer of the month for September.

Officer Matthew Kumnick has been on the job with the Dalton Police Department less than a year and a half, joining the force in May of 2011.  In that time, though, he has proven himself to be a talented officer willing to go the extra mile to clear cases.  On September 24th, Officer Kumnick was dispatched to take a theft report at Material Handling Company at 631 Glenwood Avenue. 

Once on scene, Kumnick found that the air conditioning units at the business had been stripped of their copper tubing.  The business owners told him that their air conditioners had also been stripped of copper wiring the previous weekend, but they hadn't reported it to police. 

After taking the report, Officer Kumnick remembered that there had been other reports of copper wire thefts in the Glenwood Avenue area and checked the incident reports on his computer.  He found that an air conditioning unit had been stolen the previous week from a nearby vacant residence at 208 Long Street and that neighbors there had mentioned a suspicious man had been seen in the area entering yards and looking at houses. Officer Kumnick then went to Long Street and spoke to neighboring residents and learned where the suspicious man lived in the area. 

As he was waiting, the suspect came out onto the street pushing a shopping cart loaded with copper wiring.  Officer Kumnick approached the suspect, later identified as 59 year old Raymond Patrick Shaw of 202 Long Street.  Officer Kumnick noticed that the wiring was of a similar size and type to the wiring stolen from Material Handling Co. and had been cut in a consistent manner.  Kumnick walked back to the Material Handling Co. with Shaw and the shopping cart and noted that the cuts in the wire matched perfectly to the cuts in the air conditioner units. 

Kumnick then placed Shaw under arrest. 

Once under arrest, Shaw was read his Miranda rights which he waived, agreeing to talk to officers.  He told Officer Kumnick that he was on his way to Self Recycling with the copper tubing, claiming that he'd gotten it from his son and didn't know it was stolen.  Officers could see several components of air conditioners and heat pumps in Shaw's back yard from the street, and asked for his consent to search the yard.  Officers

observed the covers of several air conditioner units on the ground and also insulation for copper wiring and tubing scattered around the yard that appeared to have been cut away from copper tubing. 

After charging Shaw with theft by receiving stolen property for the copper tubing, Officer Kumnick continued to work on the case.   Later in his shift, he was dispatched to the Oriental Market at 901 Glenwood Avenue which had also had a heat pump stripped of copper tubing. 

Kumnick remembered seeing a heat pump cover consistent with the unit in the yard behind Shaw's residence nearby.  Kumnick contacted the DPD Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and worked with detectives to get a search warrant for Shaw's residence.  Investigators found pipe cutters and a saw along with two heat pump covers and a heat pump fan.  Taking oen of the heat pump covers back to the Oriental Market, Officer Kumnick found that the cover fit and the pry marks and breaks in the metal were a perfect match.

Kumnick then returned to the Whitfield County Jail and charged Shaw with criminal damage to property in the 2nd degree, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, and theft by taking.

Officer Kumnick also worked with the management of Self Recycling to check Shaw's sales history and was able to confirm that he had sold copper tubing stolen from the vacant house at 208 Long Street. 

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