LEWISBURG PA April 30 2011 — Six thousand, two hundred pounds of copper can bring in a lot of cash. It also brought felony burglary and trespass charges against a 27-year-old Watsontown man accused of stealing copper wire from a Bucknell University facility.
Shawn M. Hoffman, a former student employee for Bucknell’s Facilities Department, was arraigned recently by District Judge Leo S. Armbruster on charges of stealing copper wire from a storage barn on the Lewisburg campus between last fall and March 3. He is out on $25,000 bail and faces a preliminary hearing May 5.
University police arrested Hoffman April 19. He took the stolen wire, worth about $21,000, to Staiman’s Recycling Center in Williamsport, police said.
Felony charges include burglary, criminal trespass and breaking into a structure and receiving stolen property. Hoffman also faces misdemeanor charges of theft by unlawful taking and possession of an instrument of crime with intent.
Bucknell police did not return a call seeking comment before press time Thursday.
This is the third copper theft in the Valley within the past four months. In late December, a vacant former orphanage in Upper Augusta Township, Northumberland County, had 2,000 feet of copper pipe stolen. In early January, two Milton men were charged with theft after they allegedly were caught with copper pipe and tools in their possession. The two incidents are unrelated.
Copper’s value has climbed steady for the past few years, fueling a black market for the material that has stoked copper thefts. Abandoned buildings and homes are popular targets for thieves, who break in and strip copper pipes and cable.
However, recently, the price of copper has hit a slump because of the U.S. economy, Reuters reported Thursday. While it finished on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Commodity Exchange at $4.26 per pound, that is down from a record high in February of $4.65 a pound.
That drop in price for the base metal came after U.S. gross domestic product for the first quarter slowed to a 1.8 percent annual pace, according to Reuters.