De. man linked to storm-grate thefts out on bail

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Police said he cooperated, admitting his role in crime spree

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Brandon Jennings, accused of a spate of storm-grate thefts, waived his preliminary hearing in Kennett district court on Tuesday

Brandon Jennings, accused of a spate of storm-grate thefts, waived his preliminary hearing in Kennett district court on Tuesday

Brandon J. Jennings, 22, of New Castle, De., appeared before Magisterial Judge Daniel J. Maisano on charges lodged by Kennett and Pennsbury Townships, the latter case handled by state police.  Earlier this month, he waived his hearing on similar charges in New Garden Township.

He and his sibling, Christopher M. Jennings, 25, of New Castle, De., also face prosecution in Delaware County, court records said.  Preliminary hearings for Christopher Jennings have not been held yet because he is incarcerated in Delaware, records said.

Maisano agreed to lower the bail for  Jennings, who is represented by Francis C. Miller, from $10,000 cash to an unsecured $5,000, according to court records.

New Garden Township Sgt. Keith Cowdright said Brandon Jennings has been cooperative ever since police tied him in May to the spate of thefts, crimes that had rankled investigators, endangered the public, and cost area municipalities thousands of dollars. Jennings surrendered to authorities and admitted his involvement, Cowdright said.

New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald R. 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 other grates, valued at more than $300 apiece, had been taken from the Harrogate North subdivision.

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, Simpson said. As the probe widened, Simpson said that other nearby jurisdictions in Chester County and Delaware County were experiencing similar disappearances and that cooperation among the various agencies facilitated the arrests.

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 that  led to identifying the suspects, Simpson said.

Police said Brandon Jennings acknowledged that the crime spree supported 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.

A formal arraignment for Brandon Jennings in Chester County Court is scheduled for Aug. 8.

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