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5 Charged in Etna Scrap Metal Thefts

Etna — Five men from Canaan and Grafton have been arrested and charged with stealing copper and other scrap metal from a Hypertherm storage dumpster following a police stake-out this past weekend.

All of the men were arraigned Monday at Lebanon District Court and held in lieu of bail on charges including burglary, theft, acts prohibited and breach of bail.

They include Christopher Zullo, 21 of Canaan, Jacob Coulter, 18 of Grafton, John Kantowski, 27 of Grafton and Leonard Kantowski, 32 of Canaan.

The men were all held in lieu of $10,000 cash bail. The fifth man, Justin Hammond, 31, of Canaan, was held in lieu of $7,500 cash bail.

Hanover Police Capt. Frank Moran said a group of thieves had been stealing valuable metals from the storage dumpster at Hypertherm in Etna for some time.

An investigation into the thefts was opened in January, according to a Hanover Police news release.

The crimes are “sophisticated in the sense that it was in an organized group,” Moran said in an interview.

Hanover Police conducted a sting operation Saturday and Sunday night, Moran said.

Around 10 p.m. Sunday, Hanover Police observed five males removing about 20 large buckets of scrap metal, estimated to weigh about 60 pounds each, from the dumpster, according to the release.

The five men were arrested with assistance from Lebanon police officers, the release said.

Probable cause hearings for the suspects are scheduled for Feb. 10 and Feb. 11.

Moran said like many parts of the country, theft of copper and other scrap metals has become a problem in the Upper Valley in recent years, where there are increasing reports of thieves breaking into homes and stripping them of copper piping.

In November, about 1,300 Green Mountain Power customers went without power for about four hours after copper wiring was stolen from a power substation in Sharon.

A similar theft from a Randolph substation was reported in October.

— Maggie Cassidy