Man took a shine to copper from public buildings, Raleigh police charge

rgallagher@newsobserver.comMarch 13, 2013 

Whitarie Odwon Octetree

WAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

— A man whom police first arrested Feb. 28 in the theft of copper piping that day from an outside air-conditioning unit at Washington Elementary School in Raleigh now faces a total of five felony larceny counts in connection with similar thefts – two more from Washington Elementary, one from a Raleigh parks building and one at Wake County’s central garage on Capital Boulevard.

Whitarie Odwon Octetree, 33, was in the Wake County Detention Center on Hammond Road when detectives delivered two warrants Monday accusing him of the city and county building thefts last month.

He had been there, too, when they drove down Hammond Road on March 4 to file charges for copper-piping thefts that occurred at the school Dec. 26 and Jan. 7.

Police had first arrested Octetree at his home at 1217 Fayetteville St. in Raleigh late on Feb. 28.

Jim Sughrue, Raleigh police spokesman, said officers had been able to gather enough information on Feb. 28 to get a warrant charging Octetree with that theft.

Later investigation led to the four other charges, he said.

Police also charged Octetree with two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, saying he took stolen copper to sell as his own for scrap at Raleigh Metals on Feb. 18 and Feb. 21.

On the 18th, five outside air-conditioning units were damaged when copper was taken out of five AC units at the county General Services central garage at 401 Capital Boulevard.

The county told police it would cost about $25,000 to have the units repaired, according to one arrest warrant.

On the 21st, air-conditioning units were hit at the city’s Walnut Creek Wetlands Center.

The repair estimate for that damage was put at $10,000, an arrest warrant said.

Wake County Public School System facilities officials said the thefts from Washington Elementary cost about $6,500.

Octetree was being held in lieu of a total bail of $75,000.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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