Stephen Andrew Walter, 43, Village Way, Somerset, was arraigned before District Judge Ken Johnson Wednesday on two incidents involving copper wire theft.
State police said Walter and another man were discovered by turnpike employees at a controlled fire in Somerset Township on Sept. 13. Walter and the other man told police they were fishing, police said. Their fishing poles were in the car some distance away and they were seen attempting to remove the copper from burnt cable, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Both men were covered in soot, police said. Both men were found in possession of tools and cooper wire stripped from insulation. Walter said the tools were his, police said.
"This practice or technique is common with individuals who remove insulation from cooper wire to harvest and sell the copper to salvage/scrap yards for money," Trooper Todd Sherle wrote in the affidavit.
Walter was charged with theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. His bond was set at $10,000 in that incident.
In a related case, Walter was charged by state police with cutting and stripping copper wire belonging to Penelec.
Police said they were informed that two males, one being Walter, were cutting and stripping wire in Quecreek on Friday. A description of a vehicle was given, and the vehicle was spotted speeding on Route 985. During the traffic stop police saw a large amount of copper wire in the bed of the truck, according to a police complaint.
The wire is believed to be the wire stolen from Penelec's Industrial Park location in Somerset Borough late last week, police said. The wire is valued at $4,875.50. The 995 pounds of wire in the truck is believed to be the same wire taken from the Penelec site, police said.
Walter was charged with overnight accommodations — no person present, criminal trespass, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. Bond was set at $10,000.
He is in Somerset County Jail in lieu of the total $20,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled at 10 a.m. Tuesday before Johnson in Somerset.