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Two accused of stealing copper wire from I-695 light poles, causing thousands in damage

Posted at 3:48 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 15:55:26-04

PIKESVILLE, Md. — For a second time in less than a year, two men are in custody for allegedly stealing copper wire from light poles along state highways.

Joseph Wetzel, 45, and Mark Brunelle, 53, of Brooklyn are each charged with multiple counts of felony theft and destruction of property.

Both were arrested around 4:20 a.m. Wednesday, after copper wire had been taken from a light pole at I-695 and Falls Road.

Investigators believe the two are responsible for at least three other similar incidents along I-695 since April, causing an estimated $66,000 in damage.

In December of 2019, Wetzel and Brunelle were charged with stealing copper on Route 50 near I-495 in Prince George's County.

During that incident, a State Trooper saw them on the side of the road in the middle of the night, carrying rolls of copper wire.

At first the men claimed the wire had fallen out of their vehicle and they were just loading it back up. But the trooper noticed it had been cut from inside the light poles and jersey wall at the location, causing about $400,000 in damage.

Online court records show prosecutors threw out charges against both men in that case.

As for the new case, Wetzel is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center awaiting an initial bail review, while Brunelle was freed on a criminal summons.