Philly police: Church bandit stole $11,500 in copper pipe, fixtures

Police say they’ve finally caught up with a man who stole $11,500 worth of copper during a pair of break-ins at a Northeast Philadelphia church.

An officer arrested 46-year-old Melvin Butler Monday after police say the officer recognized the suspect and his vehicle from surveillance video and descriptions.

Butler is accused of stealing $3,500 worth of copper piping and plumbing fixtures from Straight Gate Church of the Living World on Dec. 13 and $8,000 worth of in pipe and fixtures from the church on Jan. 25.

Both times, police said, he jumped over a side fence to break in to the church in the city’s Elmwood section, carried the plumbing material out in bags or a trash can, and then fled in a dark-colored SUV.Information on Butler’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.