Metal thefts in Petersburg, man arrested

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Police say a thief was stopped in his tracks when a getaway van full of stolen copper got stuck in the mud. It happened just after midnight on Friday in Petersburg.

51-year-old Gary Tucker is charged with grand larceny and trespassing.

Police say, Tucker was caught with a van filled with scrap metal he stole-- things like gutters, a wheelchair, even a tub.

Tucker's luck ran out when police say he stole metal from a house in the 1900 block of Buckner Street. His van got stuck in the mud when he was trying to leave. A neighbor noticed the vehicle.

"I thought he might have took a wrong turn -- maybe he'd been drinking and got stuck," said Joseph Winfield.

Police say, Tucker left the vehicle, filled with all of that stolen metal, and went to go get help. It was about that time a police officer happen to roll by.

"They didn't see the owner of the van nor did they see anyone who'd gone inside the home near the van," said Petersburg Police Spokesperson, Esther Hyatt.

Tucker came back for the van with a friend when he encountered police and was arrested.

Larry Harris knows the pain of having copper stolen from his property. A thief took pipes and tubes from his vacant house.

"People aren't working and they need an easy income - so copper and things you leave around your home -- they're getting that," said Harris.

Police say residents should give their home the once over.

"If people would check their gutters and check if they have any metal items around their home because we found people are starting to take metal things. They're taking it to scrap metal places to turn in for cash," said Hyatt.

Tucker is scheduled to appear in court on February 6th.

If you have any more information about copper thefts -- or find copper has been stolen from your home, Petersburg Police would like to hear from you.