Collingswood Police Nab Suspect in Copper Theft
John F. Benckert, 33, admitted to burglarizing the old LumberYard offices as well as two vacant properties in Haddon Twp., police say.
Collingswood Police have charged a 33-year-old Collingswood man in a handful of burglaries related to copper thefts from vacant properties in the area.
On the morning of Jan. 3, an officer spotted a man outside an empty building on Haddon Ave., carrying a basket filled with what appeared to be copper. Unable to turn his vehicle around in time before the man drove off, the officer instead noted the plate numbers of the vehicle into which he entered.
The tags were traced to an owner in Camden City who was revealed to be a "hack cabbie"; i.e., providing an illegal taxi service. She told detectives that she had been hired to take a fare to the local scrapyards, which do not accept foot traffic, but didn't know the identity of her passenger.
Detectives monitored the location at which the suspect had been observed, and about a week later, observed him entering the vacant property again. They detained the suspect, who was revealed to be John F. Benckert, 33, of Collingswood. Benckert was on an outstanding warrant from Gloucester Township for $289.
Police say that while in custody, Benckert admitted to burglarizing the old LumberYard offices in Collingswood on two separate occasions, Dec. 21 and Jan. 3, as well as to two burglaries of abandoned properties in Haddon Township. All were related to copper thefts.
Benckert was charged with two counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of fourth-degree theft, and was remanded to the Camden County correctional facility on $20,000 full cash bail.