Teen, 2 men face charges they stole metal from rails

WILTON – A Londonderry teen and two men are facing charges related to stealing metal components from rail lines around the region.

Bradley Wheeler, 18, has been charged with two counts of theft by unauthorized taking after his arrest on a warrant Wednesday. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail with a Sept. 16 court date.

In a separate, unrelated incident, police said, men from Jaffrey and Milford have been charged with attempted theft by unauthorized taking, also involving metal rail components. In that case, police arrested Kirk Kershaw, 41, of 94 North St., Jaffrey, and Timothy Martin, 41, of 26A Souhegan St., Milford.

In the Wheeler case, Wilton police responded to the Howard Street railroad grade crossing, where the line is owned by the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Rail and Transit, to investigate thefts that took place July 19 and 22.

During both thefts, a press release issued by Wilton Police Chief Brent Hautanen said, “a large amount of metal rail components” was taken.Hautanen said witnesses saw a male loading the metal into a pickup truck.

Wilton police issued alerts to other police departments and, Hautanen said, Milford police officer Craig Frye alertly found some of the metal. “He was aware of the thefts,” Hautanen said in a telephone interview Thursday, “and was checking scrap yards to see if anyone brought stuff in. He spotted it, and we traced it back to the source.”

That source was, allegedly, Wheeler. There were no documents on Wheeler available at Milford District Court.

In the case of the Kershaw and Martin charges, Wilton police went to the Forest Road railroad crossing July 23 after Milford-Bennington Railroad personnel found two male subjects on the tracks allegedly attempting to steal metal rail components.

Initially, police arrested the two on a charge of criminal trespass on railroad property, but after an investigation, according to the Wilton police press release, they “found that Kershaw and Martin had apparently been gathering components into piles in preparation for removing them when they were interrupted by the train personnel.”

They were arrested on warrants of attempted theft by unauthorized taking, one count each, and released on $800 personal recognizance bail with Sept. 16 court dates.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by Wilton police Sgt. Lawrence Duval, Milford-Bennington Railroad owner Peter Leishman called police to report seeing two men at the tracks. Duval wrote that Leishman told him that when he spoke with the men, they denied any knowledge of the components stacked on the railroad bed and “said they were looking for a fishing area” but “finally admitted to Leishman they had been stacking the assorted metal rail components on the track bed.”

The affidavit said that Kershaw and Martin were “covered with rust from handling the rusted metal items” and gave no reason for stacking the metal.

And, Duval wrote, “neither subject had a fishing pole or any fishing equipment with them.”