Copper thieves wreak havoc in abandoned factory

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

For months, copper thieves have been wreaking havoc on an abandoned factory in Williamsburg.

The old Lion Uniform Factory has been damaged numerous time by copper thieves, but after six months of investigating the Williamsburg Police Department has finally made an arrest.

It used to be the home of the old Lion Uniform Factory. But after sitting abandoned for a few years, thieves have found their way inside, and they keep coming back.

"Just seems like every week or so, every five or six days, we are noticing more stuff being vandalized and taken," said the caretaker of the property Steve Siler.

Thirteen air conditioning units on the roof have been stripped for copper, and the thieves didn't stop there. They broke into one of the buildings and gutted almost all of the water lines destroying anything in their way.

"They've done thousands of dollars worth of damage just trying to get to the copper out," said Siler.

Police have increased patrols in the area trying to catch the thieves. Last week a citizen tipped police off when she saw some people leaving the factory.

"One of the suspects actually drove up to the scrap yard while I was there, and I was actually able to recover some of the items that were taken from the building, and we arrested him," said Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird.

Autoro Mattie is now charged with receiving stolen property over $10,000 and criminal mischief.

Siler says the buildings used to be in good shape, and they were not planning on them being abandoned forever.

"By damaging these buildings, it limits the chances of being able to use these buildings to create jobs later," said Siler.

For now the future of the buildings remains uncertain.

Police do not think Mattie acted alone, and they say more arrests could be coming.

Siler is also looking into getting an alarm system for the building.

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