An alert neighbor thwarted a copper pipe theft on Sinclair Avenue early Monday morning when he woke up and heard "pipe snapping" noises next door.
Major Robert W. Ryan said a 19-year-old Providence man identified as Sean Simpson, of 67 Hamilton St., was arrested and charged with felony breaking and entering for allegedly attempting to remove copper piping from a vacant, boarded up house.
An accomplice remains at large and the investigation is ongoing, police said.
According to police, the neighbor stepped outside to walk his dog when he heard noises he described as pipe snapping coming from the vacant house next door. He immediately called police and when Officer Justice Rutkiewitcz responded to the scene, he heard a loud noise coming from the opposite side of the residence and saw two male subjects wearing dark clothing run across the yard and hop over a chain-link fence.
Rutkiewitcz called for backup and Officer Daniel Lee responded to an area north and east of the reported break-in. He parked his cruiser with the lights off and "within moments, he observed a male subject wearing dark clothing running towards his direction," Ryan said.
That subject was Simpson, who was taken into custody and admitted his involvement in the break, police said.
Police said Simpson and his accomplice removed a plywood panel covering a rear window. Inside the vacant house, police found a number of tools including a pair of bolt cutters, a blue backpack, a black duffel bag and two piles of copper piping that had been cut and stacked.
"It appears as if the intruders were scared off by the witness's dog before they could remove the stolen property," Ryan said.
Simpson was arraigned on Monday at the Kent County Courthouse and bail was set at $10,000 personal recognizance. He will return to court on Dec. 19.
A second arrest in the case is expected, police said.