2 charged after stealing thousands in scrap metal from abandoned, tornado-damaged buildings

Local News

MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – The Moraine Police Department says two people have been arrested and officials executed a search warrant Thursday as the result of a six-month investigation into a scrap metal theft ring, the department confirmed.

According to Sgt. Andrew Parish of the Moraine Police Department, thieves were targeting a number of abandoned and damaged buildings in Montgomery County, stealing electrical wire and copper from the buildings before selling them at recycling centers in Montgomery County.

Parish said they received information from some of the recycling centers that these men brought thousands of pounds of electrical wiring, and received thousands of dollars for the stolen goods in one transaction.

Moraine Scrap Metal
Moraine Scrap Metal (Moraine PD)

Among the buildings the thieves targeted were the former General Motors plant on Springboro Pike in Moraine, the former Dayton Hotel on Wagner Ford Road, and abandoned schools in Northridge. Buildings in Riverside and Harrison Township were also targeted.

Damages to the buildings from the thefts could be in the millions of dollars, Sgt. Parish said Friday. Parish said that when electrical parts are taken from buildings, the entire building then needs to be rewired.

Two people, Justin Clever and Donald Leeth III, have been arrested in connection with the scrap metal theft ring. Both are charged with breaking and entering as well as receiving stolen property. Parish said the department hopes to charge more people, as nearly a dozen people are believed to be involved in the ring.

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