Detectives with the Scrap Metal Task Force in Colorado Springs say that two new arrests may clear about 50 cases of metal theft around the Pikes Peak region.
Investigators say one suspect, William Matuska, was arrested early Sunday morning, May 22, after police and state troopers pulled him over for a drunk driving stop at Aeroplaza Drive and E. Fountain Boulevard.
Investigators say they found back flow valves in the trunk of the 44-year-old's vehicle, as well as tools used to cut large pipes. A second suspect who had been with Matuska, 48-year-old Bruce Williams, was initially released by the State Patrol, but later picked up Scrap Metal Task Force officers thanks to the evidence found in the car.
Detectives say they had actually been investigating both men for several months. They've now linked the men to numerous thefts of back flow valves and copper pipe from several locations including residences, schools, city parks and businesses throughout the Pikes Peak area.
Kurt Schroeder with the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department says in the last nine months they alone have had at least 50 of their water systems targeted by thieves.
"From the stand point of tax dollars literally tens of thousands of dollars we had to spend to go replace things that had been stolen, which otherwise could've been used on repairing a playground or keeping the grass green,” Schroeder said.
During the execution of search warrants at the suspects’ residences and storage facilities, several back flow valves and parts from back flow valves were recovered as well as tools used to steal the back flow valves.
Colorado Springs Police Sergeant Steve Noblitt says this is a big bust for the city.
"We are glad to get these two off the streets this is something that has been plaguing this city for a long time," Noblitt said.
Both suspects are being held at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center in lieu of $50,000 bond. These arrest may clear 50 cases in the past six to twelve months. The damage estimate caused in the thefts is more than $150,000.