Mahwah Police are looking for a person or group of people who stole thousands of dollars in tools from a shed left standing next to the remnants of a township home that burned to the ground last week, authorities said Wednesday. Police Chief James Batelli called the burglars, who police say broke the lock on the shed to steal tools the family had inside it, “people of very questionable character, to take the few belongings this family has left.”
According to police, Roger Mann – who recently thanked the community for its support after the fire - returned to his Stag Hill home Sunday night after a family member noticed the lock on the family’s shed next to the home had been cut off.
Burglars stole two chainsaws, a table saw, a circular saw and other tools that were in the shed, Batelli said.
Police also found a significant amount of copper piping stolen from the remains of the home, Batelli said. The piping is a popular target for burglars, who sell it to junkyards for a “considerable amount of money,” Batelli said. Altogether, burglars made away with thousands of dollars worth of tools and piping, he said.
As part of the ongoing police investigation, cops are contacting local junkyards to attempt to trace where the piping ended up. The County Bureau of Criminal Investigation also processed the crime scene and dusted for fingerprints, Batelli said.
“Sometimes the soot [left there from the fire] could be helpful in terms of finding prints,” he said.
The fire broke out last Wednesday when Mann’s wife and three kids were home. Officials say it was likely caused by a wood-burning stove. Residents have been to the family since the fire.
So far, police said they do not have suspects identified in the theft.