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Man Arrested for Stealing Copper to Support Drug Habit

The attraction to copper has been a strong one for criminals seeking to score some easy cash. For those with a drug addiction, this score could easily lead to their next drug purchase and continue to feed the addiction.

A news piece in the Tampa Bay featured Steven Duane Branesky, who was accused of destroying more than $300,000 worth of property in an effort to steal $5,000 worth of copper. Branesky allegedly stripped air-conditioning units of valuable copper elements and damaged them in the process.

Branesky began his raids at night on the roof of a vacant Circuit City store and then continued on at a Ross Dress for Less and a Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q. The raid ended in a daylight raid on a church; parishioners were meeting inside.

"It appears that he had a drug addiction that was fueling his crime spree," said police spokesman Bill Proffitt. "He was becoming more brazen as time went on. The last one he hit was a church, during the middle of the day, while it was open. We're glad to get him off the streets."

The fact that drugs were driving this crime spree helped to make sure it ended as quickly as it started. Branesky was not a careful thief and was already leaving a trail of fingerprints for police to find. In addition to this identifying mark, Branesky was selling scrap metal at a community recycling center.

Branesky was arrested on Dec. 12 on five counts of grand theft, four counts of criminal mischief and single counts of misdemeanor battery and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

"He confessed," Proffitt said. "Not to all the crimes, but to most of them."

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