A copper thief who cased neighborhoods in the Hamptons to steal metal for cash is expected to be arraigned Wednesday after a seven-month investigation by several law enforcement agencies, police said.
Jonathan Hodgdon, 21, of Mastic, stole piping, copper lighting and other metals from more than 20 properties in the western part of Southampton Town, where he targeted unoccupied vacation homes, authorities said.
Detectives caught him cutting copper piping about 1:45 p.m. Monday from the outside of an Old Mill Lane home in Remsenburg, Southampton police said.
"He was so brazen, he did his work during the daytime," said Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa.
"It's not that you just steal something. In one house in Remsenburg . . . he created a massive [water] leak and it went into the neighbor's yard. He caused $9,000 worth of damage."
Since April, police from the town, Westhampton Beach Village and Quogue Village had been on the lookout for a serial copper thief who stole precious metal piping and lighting fixtures to sell to scrap yards, authorities said.
The scrap yards cooperated by turning over to police piping from Hodgdon, Costa said, and investigators took the pieces to various victims' properties to see if the cut edges fit the ruined pipes remaining at the homes. "It was like a jigsaw puzzle," Costa said. "It was not an easy task."
In one case, Hodgdon went back three times to a Stokes Lane house in Remsenburg -- the house that flooded, she said.
He first cut the pipes there Sept. 28, Costa said, and as soon as the homeowners made the repairs, he was back last Wednesday to cut the new pipes, returning the next day because he couldn't finish getting all the copper the first day.
Hodgdon was charged with six counts of third-degree grand larceny, five counts of second-degree criminal mischief, third-degree burglary, fourth-degree grand larceny, petty larceny, fourth-degree criminal mischief and possession of burglar tools.
The charges cover nine homes in Southampton Town, Costa said.
Hodgdon waived arraignment Tuesday because he did not have an attorney, Costa said, and is being held for arraignment Wednesday.
More charges are expected to be filed by police in Quogue and Westhampton Beach.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information may call Southampton Town detectives at 631-702-2230.