Man convicted in theft of copper siding
STORY SUMMARY »
A Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted a man of several offenses related to the theft of copper, the first such case to go to trial in Hawaii.
Michael Handy, 44, was found guilty of fourth-degree theft, second-degree criminal property damage and second-degree criminal trespassing in the May 2006 theft of copper siding and rain gutters from the Board of Water Supply's Kapahulu facility.
The actual theft is a petty misdemeanor, but he faces a possible five-year prison term for the felony criminal property damage.
FULL STORY »
A former California man has been found guilty of stealing copper siding and rain gutters from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply's Kapahulu facility in May 2006.
A jury took 1 1/2 hours to convict Michael Handy, 44, yesterday of fourth-degree theft, second-degree criminal property damage and second-degree criminal trespassing.
Prosecutors said it was the first copper theft case to go to trial in Honolulu and was part of a rash of such thefts across Oahu last year.
He was convicted of stealing less than $100 worth of copper, a petty misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail.
But he faces a possible five-year prison term for the felony criminal property damage.
Prosecutors say damage to the facility, initially estimated at $2,300, will likely cost as much as $14,000 because of possible damage to the Monier tiles on the roof.
Witnesses testified they watched a man dressed in dark clothing, later identified as Handy, running back and forth on the roof removing copper materials.
Deputy public defender Lee Hayakawa said they were disappointed in the outcome but appreciated that the jury worked hard on the case.
The defense had maintained at trial that Handy had trespassed on the property, a popular haven for the homeless, but that someone else was responsible for the theft and damage to the building.
Handy, who owned a valet service company that went out of business in 2005 and since became homeless, testified he was looking for a place to sleep and ended up at the unmanned water facility.
He got spooked after hearing noises and was leaving the area with his bike when police arrived and detained him.
Hayakawa said they will seek probation for Handy, who has one other prior conviction for possessing liquor in public.
Deputy Prosecutor Franklin Pacarro said they will seek the maximum five-year term as a deterrence to others.
Copper thefts have been on the rise here as the cost of copper rises, leaving miles and miles of freeways in the dark and schools having to replace stolen rain gutters. This year, the Legislature passed a law that makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison for stealing a pound or more of copper.
Handy's offense occurred before the law was enacted.
Circuit Judge Steve Alm set sentencing for Sept. 4.