Detailed investigation yields alleged culprit in theft of copper from vacant homes

Criminal charges against Brian Keith Dunlap, 39, of Perry are the result of an intensive investigation conducted by the Greene County sheriff’s office and chief deputy Jack Williams. The Guthrie County and Boone County sheriff’s offices assisted, as did the Perry police department.

Dunlap was charged last week in Greene County district court with criminal mischief-second degree and burglary-third degree, three counts each, in connection with thefts reported April 22, April 30, and May 9. He is also charged with ongoing criminal conduct.

According to court documents, Williams started the investigation April 23 after the owner of two properties in the 1800 block of P Ave in Grant Township reported that copper wiring and tubing had been taken from the vacant houses. Williams went to ESI Iron and Metal, a salvage yard in Herndon, to check in anyone had been selling copper wire or copper tubing there. The owner of ESI provided Williams with 10 days of receipts showing that Dunlap and another man, who has not yet been charged, had sold 494 pounds of copper and 86 pounds of brass between April 7 and April 14. The copper consisted of piping and burnt copper wire. The salvage yard owner also gave Williams the license plate number of the Chevy pickup truck Dunlap was driving when he delivered the metals.

Guthrie County sheriff’s deputy Kent Gries conducted a traffic stop of Dunlap in the Chevy truck. Gries found in the truck and photographed a map and a written list of streets in Greene County. Also on the list was a street in Boone County where burglaries and the loss of copper and other items were reported.

On May 9, the theft of a welder and several tractor batteries was reported in the 1600 block of 300th St in Franklin Township. On May 12, Williams obtained a search warrant allowing him to place a GPS tracker on Dunlap’s pickup truck. Williams then began monitoring Dunlap’s activity. On May 16, Dunlap went to a storage unit at Four Seasons in Perry. Williams requested Perry police chief Eric Vaughn to go past the storage unit. There Vaughn saw Dunlap moving items from the truck to the storage unit. Williams believed Dunlap was keeping stolen items in the storage unit.

On May 27, Williams noted that Dunlap went to Bell Salvage in Boone. Boone County sheriff deputy Brian Pontius went to Bell Salvage and photographed the items Dunlap had just sold. He sent them to Williams, who showed them to the owner of the tractor batteries stolen May 9. The owner identified one of the batteries Dunlap had sold as belonging to him.

The next day, Greene County deputy Shane Allen went to Bell Salvage to collect the items and take them to the Law Enforcement Center in Jefferson. Deputies Williams and Allen spent time May 29 going through the copper and tubing collected at Bell Salvage. They were able to identify items that were taken in three separate burglaries among those items. They were also able to take some of the wire and match it to wire that was cut from some of the tractor battery cables. They were even able to match some of the copper tubing by comparing cuts and bends to what was taken in the P Ave burglaries.

On June 1 Williams and Allen conducted a search warrant at Dunlap’s home in Perry and located two boat motors that had been reported stolen from a machine shed in the 1700 block of D Ave in Scranton Township. Copper wire and tubing was also taken from the house at that site.

According to Williams’ affidavit, when he interviewed Dunlap at the Perry police department, he admitted to breaking into several vacant residences. He agreed to ride with Williams and show him places he had broken into. Those places included some that had not yet been reported.

Dunlap also faces charges in Boone and Dallas counties.

Another Perry man, David Eric Olesen, 44, has been arrested in the case after a search warrant at his home. Charges have not yet been filed in district court. Olesen is not the man named in Williams’ affidavit as having sold copper at ESI with Dunlap.

Note: In all cases when a defendant has been charged this is merely an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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