Canberra father spending Christmas behind bars over AFP copper theft

Originally published on The Canberra Times (December 24 2016)

A Canberra man will spend Christmas behind bars after allegedly being discovered in the act of stealing copper piping and cabling from an Australian Federal Police complex.

Paul Pearson, 41, of Chifley, was charged with intent to commit theft after he was arrested at the abandoned AFP complex in Weston on Friday morning.

In the ACT Magistrates Court on Saturday, the court heard the drug ice may have been a factor in the crime, with the accused attempting to support his habit.

Pearson, described as a stay-at-home dad, was remanded in custody.

Police alleged Pearson, having heard the site was no longer in use and soon due for demolition, had stolen and intended to sell the copper piping and brass fittings to scrap metal businesses in Fyshwick.

ACT police also executed a search warrant at the man’s home, where they discovered and seized a large quantity of copper piping, cabling and brass fittings.

It is alleged the man told police he had stolen between 15 to 20 kilograms of the copper piping from the same complex in the past.

Police are understood to have caught Pearson red-handed, removing copper piping from the site and stowing it in his car around 8.30am on Friday. When he saw the police vehicle arrive, he allegedly hid in an inner room.

He was found by a police dog after a search of the complex, and told officers he was “just going for a walk”.

A pair of bolt cutters was also found nearby.

Pearson is believed to have gained access to the complex through a hole in the perimeter fence.

ACT Policing were unable to comment on the case while it was before the court but are understood to be seeking a co-offender.

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