Two remain jailed in copper and metal scrapping scam
Two men remained in jail Thursday after allegedly scraping copper tubing that they had bought using store credit obtained by returning stolen items.
Jason Austin Sawicki, 28, of 1719 S.W. 12th Terrace, and Eugene Cody Weisensee, 19, of 312 S.E. Kamal Parkway, were booked Monday into the Lee County Jail and charged in connection to a scam to scrap copper and metals.
According to authorities, a Metal Theft Task Force made up of local law enforcement agencies identified the two after they sold an “unusually high amount” of new 10-inch sections of cobber tubing to a recycling center.
Officers began conducting surveillance on Sawicki and Weisensee.
The two were seen on numerous occasions going into hardware and home improvement stores allegedly for the purpose of shoplifting expensive small items. They would return the items and receive a gift card or store credit.
According to officials, the two would then buy copper tubing with the gift card or store credit and take the copper to a scrap yard to sell it for cash.
On Monday, both men were taken into custody by authorities.
Sawicki and Weisensee were each charged with various counts of fraud false statement verify ownership regulated metals under $300 and petit theft.
Sawicki was being held Thursday on $32,000 bond. He has a court date set for Sept. 6.
Weisensee has a court appearance Aug. 22. He was denied bond due to unrelated prior charges.
Metal Theft Task Force members believe that the scam is part of a larger operation, and they are currently conducting other surveillance operations.
In a separate incident Tuesday, more than $18,000 worth of copper wiring was reported stolen from a construction site in the 1400 block of Northeast 15th Avenue. The site once housed the Alternative Learning Center school.
A representative for the Lee County School Board and Lee County Electric Cooperative told police that the wiring was stolen from inside the site, which is enclosed with a fence. PVC pipes that contained the wires were damaged.
The wiring is valued at $18,375. The damage is estimated at $3,675.
The Lee County School Board will press charges in the theft.
Anyone with information can contact the Cape Coral Police Department at 574-3223, or submit a tip by texting “CCPD” plus the message to CRIMES or by visiting: www.capecops.com. Tipsters can also contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at (800) 780-TIPS (8477) and be eligible for a cash reward.