Police: Spate of storm-grate thefts solved

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Two Delaware men face multiple charges for alleged months-long crime spree

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Christopher Jennings, 25, of New Castle, De., faces charges connected to a series of storm-grate thefts, police said.

Christopher Jennings, 25, of New Castle, De., faces charges connected to a series of storm-grate thefts, police said.

Months after a series of storm-grate thefts rankled investigators, endangered the public, and cost area municipalities thousands of dollars, police said two Delaware men have been charged.

New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald R. Simpson said two brothers from New Castle face numerous offenses. He said one, Brandon J. Jennings, 22, turned himself into New Garden police, cooperated, and was released on a summons; Christopher M. Jennings, 25, is wanted by another department; therefore, his appearance is pending.

Simpson said the thefts date back to Dec. 27, when a resident of the Harrogate South subdivision found that two storm grates had been stolen, a discovery that led to the realization that two grates had also been taken from the Harrogate North subdivision. The total value of the four stolen storm grates was estimated in excess of $1,300, Simpson said.

Brandon Jennings, 22, told police he stole the storm grates to support a drug habit.

Brandon Jennings, 22, told police he stole the storm grates to support a drug habit.

On Jan. 3, the New Garden Township Police Department received another theft report from the New Garden Public Works Department of additional storm grates from the Brittany Hills and Harrogate South subdivisions. The employee advised that a total of eight storm grates, valued at $2,600, had disappeared.

Throughout the winter, the New Garden Township Police Department learned that other nearby jurisdictions in Chester County and Delaware County were experiencing similar thefts, Simpson said. In March, Kennett Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy developed information through a scrap yard in New Castle County, De., which was instrumental in recovering photographic evidence and stolen property – information that ultimately led to identifying the suspects, Simpson said.

Simpson said Brandon Jennings confessed to his participation in the crime spree, advising that the thefts were committed to support a drug addiction. McCarthy said the grates, which weigh about 160 pounds and require at least two people to move, could easily be sold at scrap-metal yards. McCarthy said 21 grates were stolen in Kennett Township alone. Officials in East Marlborough, Pennsbury, Bethel and Concord Townships also reported thefts, he said.

The brothers face charges that include theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy, Simpson said. A preliminary hearing on the Kennett Township charges is scheduled for June 18; a hearing on the charges in New Garden is set for June 28, court records said.

Simpson praised the collaboration among municipalities that resulted in the charges. “Collaboration and information-sharing is critical when it comes to solving crime and making our communities safer,” he said.

 

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