2 charged with attempted theft of copper wires in Rowe

ROWE — Two North Adams men have been charged with attempting to steal copper signal wires from the area of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Nathan W. Nielsen, 25, and Michael Banister, 26, both of North Adams, have been arraigned on charges of vandalizing a railroad car, track, or signal; trespassing; attempt to commit larceny over $250; walking or riding on a railroad track and intimidation of a witness.

On Oct. 22, Nielsen and Banister were found walking the railroad tracks by Boston and Maine railroad employees, according to a police report prepared by state police trooper Laura Cary. The railroad workers were called to the area after an automated system detected a break in the line for the red and green lights on the track.

Cary arrived to find both men in the custody of railroad patrolman Robert Murphy.

Murphy told Cary the railroad received a signal line failure alarm at 11 a.m., about half a mile east of where the men were found.

Nearby, hidden beneath a tree, were the missing lengths of copper signal wire. The railroad estimated the cost of the line repairs at $1,630.

While searching Nielsen’s vehicle, Cary found a 16-inch length of copper pipe, and two severed copper faucets in the trunk, she wrote.

Both men admitted that they’d seen and passed posted no-trespassing signs, and told Cary that they had come to the area to check on a friend’s automatic hunting cameras, wrote Cary. However, a follow-up interview with that man, also from North Adams, and his girlfriend, disputed that story. Cary wrote that both the man and his girlfriend reported that Banister had come to them and asked that they lie to state police if they came asking about him.

Cary said the suspects had pointed out two other cars parked near the Saturn they drove in, and suggested that their owners could’ve been the thieves.

Cary followed up, and found that the cars belonged to people in their 60s, who had been out hiking.

Both men were released on personal recognizance, and are due back in court on Jan. 15 for a pretrial conference.

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