Southern California breaking news and trends

Copper theft epidemic meets a rash of illegal metal yards

copper pipe

Photo by tanakawho via Flickr Creative Commons

A suspected copper thief was arrested last week by LAPD detectives after DNA tests from clothing left at the scene pointed to the man.

The story of Edward Curtis Menhaffy, 28, is the "classic tale of drug addict who steals to maintain his habit," said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division in a news release.

Property crimes often go unsolved and "are the real whodunits," Vernon added, calling DNA, "a genetic digital photograph after the fact."

Menhaffy was arrested on August 16 at his residence in Panorama City, less than two miles from a house where new copper pipes had been cut away months earlier.

Police say the case presents the full anatomy of a copper theft:

  • Drug addicted suspect
  • Capering in close proximity to his home
  • On the hunt for an easy victim
  • Entering an apparent unoccupied home
  • Looking for a prize that can easily be resold for cash
  • Detectives found more copper piping at Menhaffy’s home when he was arrested.  


Unfazed by Taser, officers shoot and kill metal pole-wielding man


A suspect carrying a long metal object approaches police on Monday at a Carl's Jr. in Monterey Park, CA.

A witness video of a fatal shooting in a Carl's Jr. parking lot on Monday appears to show the third time in three days that Los Angeles County authorites used lethal force on a suspect.

The incident began at the restaurant in the 1200 block of Cesar Chavez Avenue just before 9:30 a.m. on Monday, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. 

The suspect, carrying a long metal object, walked "slowly and calmly" to the side of the building before "very nonchalantly smashing in the windows with his weapon," wrote the witness below a YouTube video that aired on network television news. 

After ignoring orders to drop his weapon, police used a Taser on the suspect, which seemed to have no effect. At least one officer opened fire as the suspect began to swing at police with the metal object.