Detectives Credited With Cracking Stolen Copper Case
Cleveland man charged with felony theft suspected in several cases in Northeast Ohio.
Lakewood police cracked the case of stolen copper downspouts that, for the past year, have been ripped from the sides of area churches in the dark of night. And detectives solved the crime using some good, old-fashioned police work.
Police tracked down the 34-year-old Cleveland man suspected of stealing copper from dozens of churches and buildings in Lakewood — and around Northeast Ohio — by following up on leads and investigating at Cleveland scrap yards looking for evidence.
The end result was the arrest of James Dina, of 1011 Spring Rd., who was charged Monday with felony theft and is now being held in the Cuyahoga County jail. Lakewood police Capt. Ed Hassing said Dina is a suspect in several cases in the area — including Lakewood, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Berea and Rocky River.
"Lakewood detectives followed up with scrap dealers in Cleveland, and a dealer had just gotten a shipment," Hassing said. "We had detectives working on it. They did an excellent job following up on this. "
Area churches have been victimized by copper thefts in dozens of incidents during the past year, he said. Police are continuing the investigation to determine whether Dina had any role in them.
Going back almost one year, Lakewood police have responded to reports of copper theft at St. James, St. Luke, Transfiguration Parish (formerly SS. Cyril and Methodius) and Lakewood Congregtional Church. And, in just the past week, Faith Lutheran Church and St. Peters Episcopal Church were hit by a copper bandit.
Hassing said some of the churches have been hit several times. With scrap dealers paying around $3 per pound, the copper downspouts at area churches have made easy marks, he said.
Lakewood Police Chief Timothy Malley said he is proud of his department for its work on the case. He noted the work of the detectives leading the investigation, Pat Foye and Tom McLaughlin, who are both department veterans.
Malley said scrap yards are often required to obtain photo identification for those who sell scrap metal, including copper. "Unfortunately, there's a market for this commodity," he added.
Detectives followed up with several area scrap yards, before finding some luck at one in Cleveland, said Malley, adding the once Dina was identified a warrant was issued for his arrest.
"Developing those leads took a good piece of detective work," he said. "It led to cleaning up some of our thefts of copper gutters but (also helped) many of our neighboring communities."