Three arrested in Sussex scrap-metal thefts

Delaware State Police last week arrested three Bridgeville residents in connection with a series of thefts and attempted thefts of scrap metal from locations in Frankford, Millsboro and Delmar in late June.

Police said the thefts and attempted thefts occurred on June 25, beginning around 9:15 a.m. with the attempted theft of a tractor hitch from a barn on Blueberry Lane in the Frankford area.

According to the DSP, a witness reported that a black Jeep had been parked alongside the barn and the Jeep’s occupants were observed placing a tractor hitch in the rear of the Jeep.

The witness confronted the suspects and ordered them to put the stolen property back. The suspects – later identified as Kevin M. Cooper, 26, William C. Cooper, 22, and Crystal G. Cooper, 25, all of the same address in Bridgeville – police said, complied and put back the tractor hitch.

Police said they learned that Crystal Cooper was the registered owner of the Jeep because the witness copied down the Delaware registration information for the vehicle.

As the trooper was completing the investigation on Blueberry Lane, officers said, he was notified of another theft in progress near Delmar. The theft in the second incident also allegedly involved a black Jeep. In that second theft case, the thieves allegedly stole five aluminum wheels that had been sitting outside a barn and then fled the area.

Police said the Coopers then allegedly moved on to Truitt Road in the Millsboro area.

Once again, the trooper was contacting a victim – this time in the second incident – and learned of a theft in progress on Truitt Road.

He was advised that a Jeep fitting the descriptions previously given had pulled into a private driveway and that one of the Cooper boys had walked to the front door, knocked and, upon not receiving an answer, pulled the Jeep along the side of the residence. The suspects, police said, then allegedly proceeded to steal a tractor battery, cables and welding helmet before fleeing the scene.

State police detectives conducting follow-up investigations into scrap-metal thefts received information positively linking the three Coopers to the three thefts on June 25, and on Aug. 4, arrested Kevin M. Cooper on charges of Burglary Third Degree, two counts of Theft Under $1,500, Conspiracy Second Degree, two counts of Conspiracy Third Degree, Attempted Theft Under $1,500 and two counts of Criminal Trespass Third Degree.

On Aug. 5, they arrested William C. Cooper and Crystal G. Cooper the same charges.

William and Crystal Cooper were remanded to Sussex Correctional Institute and Women’s Correctional Institute, respectively, each on $11,200 secured bond. Kevin Cooper was released on $8,000 unsecured bond.

Police said they were unable to immediately identify the relationship between the three defendants.