An alert neighbor in the Beach Heaven West community helps police put the brakes on copper thefts in Stafford Township.

Ocean County Dept. of Corrections (Ocean County Dept. of Corrections)

Police say they arrested and charged a man with burglary and criminal mischief last Tuesday after a neighbor contacted them about someone removing copper pipes from a Sandy damaged home on Millcreek Road.

Stafford Police say a dispatcher received a phone call from a concerned neighbor on March 26th advising them that there was an unauthorized person at his neighbor's house removing copper pipes from inside. The patrolman who responded to the scene found the suspect Richard Brown parked on the property with copper pipe in the rear of his vehicle. Police says Brown told them that he had permission to be on the property, stating that he was working for a local contractor and checking to see if the house was ready for demolition.

However, the Officer contacted the homeowner and the current contractor who said they didn't know the suspect and he did not have authorization to be on the property. Police also checked with the Brown's supposed employer, who said Brown didn't work for them either. He was lodged in the Ocean County Jail.

Police say the residents of the Beach Haven West Civic Association had recently created an informal Neighborhood Watch program because an increase burglaries and copper plumbing and wire thefts in the area. Residents were asked by Stafford Crime Prevention Officers to be watchful for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods especially among opportunistic criminals appearing to work as contractors during the day.

Stafford Police say thank the residents of Beach Haven West for their increased attention for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and encourage all residents to continue to report suspicious activity to 609-597-8581.