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Alert Cop Foils Elaborate Copper Theft Scheme At Joliet Arsenal

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ELWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — Two men have been charged, after police say they went to great lengths to try to steal copper from the long-shuttered Joliet Arsenal.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports, copper can bring in a pretty penny, and Julio Gil, 24 and Ronald Niedermyer, 42, were hoping to find some to cash in. So they rode two mountain bikes through the prairie to the darkened arsenal buildings while carrying an 800-pound-load-limit dolly between them, police said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports

Elwood police Officer George Donchez was on patrol around 1:15 a.m., when he saw vehicles parked in the arsenal lot that also turned out to be part of the scheme, police said.

“Because of the late hour in the mosquito-filled area and concern of copper theft from the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, he set up surveillance,” Kerr said.

At 4:25 a.m., Donchez watched the men pull onto Old Chicago Road in a 1999 Chevrolet pickup, which he pulled over on Route 53 near Mississippi Avenue.

“In the back of the bed were two large coils of copper wire, weighing over 300 pounds and other electrical switch gear,” Kerr said.

Police also reportedly found the bikes, flashlights, gloves, bolt cutters and bug spray.

Neidermyer, of the 900 block of John Street in Joliet, and Gil, of the 0-99 block of Fourth Avenue in Joliet, were arrested and booked into the Will County Jail on charges of theft.

The former arsenal property near Elwood has some 23,000 acres. Redevelopment efforts have included the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Joliet Army Ammunition Plant buildings are still on the site.

The Joliet Herald-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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