Published: Nov 19, 2010 7:39 PM EST
Updated: Nov 19, 2010 4:39 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla - Cape Coral Police officers arrested a suspect who was caught in the act of stealing copper piping from the construction site of the VA Clinic on Corbett Road.

Richard Michael Ball was charged with Grand Theft, Criminal Mischief and Trespass..

The VA construction site had been a target of several burglaries in the past several weeks.  Detectives with the Investigative Services Bureau Property Crimes Unit developed information that led to a burglary suppression operation.  Detectives and officers with the Street Crimes unit set up surveillance at the site yesterday evening.   At 5:30 p.m., Officer Christopher Abbey, Officer Jason Sprague and Officer Walter Womack positioned themselves at different locations on the construction site.  At 8:30 p.m., Officer Sprague noticed a male smoking a cigarette just outside the location. 

At 9:30 p.m., a white van pulled up to the entrance of the construction site, and a male exited the van and called for “Rick.”  The van then drove to the 1700 block of Corbett Road and backed into a field.  Officers approached the van and detained the driver.  Officer Womack heard movement in the bushes behind the van and discovered Ball attempting to conceal himself.  Surrounding Ball were various lengths of copper tubing.

Officer Womack asked Ball what he was doing in the area, and Ball replied that he was “just up to no good getting copper.”  Ball denied stealing the copper, and told the officer that he found it in the field.  He said he intended to sell the copper at a scrap yard.  Ball also told the officer the driver of the van was unaware that the copper was stolen.  The driver told the officers that he only came to the site because Ball has asked him to pick him up from work.

Based on the evidence, Ball was arrested and charged with Grand Theft.  He was booked and transported to the Lee County Jail.  The investigation is continuing.