WATERVILLE — A Sidney man was arrested Thursday for allegedly shoplifting $139 worth of copper from a hardware store with his young child in tow.
James Smith, 32, was charged with theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, violation of condition of release and a probation hold, according to police.
Police Sgt. Alan Main said Friday that an employee at Aubuchon Hardware on Kennedy Memorial Drive said he saw Smith grabbing handfuls of copper plumbing fittings and putting them inside a blue and green bag which police later learned was the child’s diaper bag.
Police launched the investigation at 2:20 p.m. Thursday when someone at the store called to report a man with a small child had shoplifted copper fittings.
The caller told police the man drove away in a blue GMC truck and gave police the registration plate number, Main said.
Around that same time, police Officer Adam Sirois saw the truck turn into FirstPark Drive. He stopped it and spoke with Smith, who had his 4-year-old son in the passenger seat, according to Main.
Smith told police he had been to Aubuchon and had brought a copper fitting with him to see if the store had similar fittings, Main said.
Main said he took the fitting Smith claimed to own, took it back to the store and spoke with the employee who said he saw Smith stuffing copper fittings into the diaper bag.
Main went back to where Sirois had stopped Smith in his truck and confronted Smith.
“Ultimately, he denied and denied,” Main said.
But police found about two dozen 1-inch copper fittings  and some packaged tools, all with bar code stickers on them, on the floor board of the rear passenger seat, Main said.
Smith was arrested and taken to Kennebec County Jail in Augusta; bail was set at $500 cash.
“I remained on scene with the child and had called the mother of the child, who arrived a short time later to pick him up,” Main said.
Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey said police found additional copper inside the truck — copper cut in 3-foot lengths — as well as copper wire.
Detective Alan Perkins is investigating the possibility that the copper was stolen from somewhere else, Rumsey said.
“We suspect we have identified where some of it came from,” Rumsey said. “Additional charges are likely.”
Smith was convicted in January, 2009, of theft by deception, Main said.
He is scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court July 3 on the latest charges, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]


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