Two men charged in rash of thefts

Building materials, equipment stolen (Dec. 15)

By: Lauren Burgoon
   WASHINGTON — What police thought was a run-of-the-mill arrest for the theft of wood from a Town Center construction site turned into a major investigation this month that linked the suspects to a cache of stolen items worth over $6,000 recovered at their Trenton residence, police said.
   The investigation began after Patrolman Richard Karkovice noticed a pickup truck pulling out of a Town Center construction site at routes 526 and 33 on Nov. 29. The truck was leaving the site at 3:17 a.m. without its headlights on and the bed was filled with 85 2-by-4s, police said. The patrolman charged William Miller, 42, and Guy Williams, 24, both of Trenton, with stealing the lumber.
   Unidentified thieves had stolen items from several Town Center construction sites recently, prompting Detective Vince Estelle to question both men about the thefts. He and Detective Chris Nitti then drove by the suspects’ Ellis Avenue home in Trenton while both were still in Washington custody. They observed large piles of plywood possibly stolen from another Town Center site the previous night, police said.
   Washington and Trenton police officers then began searching around the home and uncovered several construction items marked with various firms’ names, police said. Some of the items, such as a large "job box" that firms use to store tools and equipment, are not typically found in private homes, police said.
   Washington police called a Town Center construction manager to the home, where he identified many items recently stolen from Washington sites and various building firms, police said. Most of the thefts had not been reported yet to police.
   Among the items found, according to police: 30 boxes of tile stolen Nov. 29 worth $1,000; seven scaffolding frames and four outriggers belonging to Brick Fronts LLC stolen Nov. 26 from Union Street worth $1,200; $1,000 worth of equipment and a job box stolen from Thermal Plumbing LLC on Nov. 26; and 98 sheets of plywood taken from Steve Lind Inc. worth $3,240.
   Another $3,150 of equipment stolen in November from Town Center sites is still missing.
   While police searched his Trenton home, Mr. Miller was released from Washington custody and returned home. Trenton police immediately arrested and charged him with receiving stolen goods, police said.
   Further investigation by Washington police linked Mr. Miller and Mr. Williams to a burglary Nov. 12 at Eagle General Contractors in Washington, police said. The men broke into and stole power tools, a compressor and generator totaling $3,500 from three vans at the Route 130 business located about one mile from Town Center, police said.
   From the various arms of the investigation, Washington police charged Mr. Miller with seven counts of theft, three counts of burglary, three counts of criminal mischief, providing false information to police, obstruction of justice, two counts of hindering apprehension and identity theft for giving police a false name. He also faced charges in Trenton and Plainsboro.
   Mr. Williams was charged with two counts of theft, plus additional charges from the other jurisdictions. Police charged him with fewer counts because the investigation pointed to Mr. Miller’s involvement in more of the incidents, such as all three of the van burglaries, police said. Investigators believe Mr. Williams burglarized only one of the three vans, police said.
   Bail was set at $100,000 for Mr. Miller and $25,000 for Mr. Williams. Mr. Miller was sent to Mercer County Correction Center and Mr. Williams was sent to Middlesex County Correctional Facility. Neither had posted bail early this week.