COLUMBIANA - A covert investigation initiated by city police after someone tipped them off to a planned theft resulted in the arrest of a 28-year-old man Thursday.
Police Chief Tim Gladis said the department set up video surveillance around the city's electric substation near Fitzpatrick Avenue and the railroad tracks after receiving a tip someone was planning to steal power distribution cable.
The surveillance was put into place on Oct. 4 and Gladis and Detective Wade Boley also patrolled the area.
The surveillance showed two people reaching through the substation's fence and pulling the heavy copper wire back through, then cutting the wire into manageable pieces likely to be scrapped later, Gladis said.
On Thursday Electric Superintendent Doug Sturgeon notified police more of the cable was moved from inside the fence, although it was still on the ground outside of the substation.
Gladis said it appeared the cable was moved with the intention of the suspect returning later, so he advised Boley to remain in the area.
Boley patrolled there for about three hours and around 1:30 p.m. the man, identified as Michael Nagel Jr., approached and began cutting the cable using a power saw. Boley immediately notified Gladis, and the two began moving in on him from different directions.
Nagel, unaware of the police presence, began walking up Fitzpatrick Avenue until he saw Gladis get out of his vehicle, at which point he began running, Gladis said.
Gladis began running after him, and Nagel attempted to evade him through a wooded area and a creek, and did lose him briefly near Elm Street, but he was shortly after spotted by Boley and Sturgeon.
The group tracked him to 262 S. Elm St., the home of his mother-in-law.
Police received permission to search the home and found Nagel hiding in the stairway of an outdoor entrance to the basement. He was ordered to the ground but resisted, resulting in police deploying a taser to get him under control. He was then taken into custody and taken to the county jail.
Nagel appeared via video arraignment before county Municipal Court Judge Mark Frost Friday morning to answer to the charges of vandalism from a government entity or other property, a felony offense, plus misdemeanor counts of theft and resisting arrest.
He pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and entered no pleas to the other charges. He was found indigent and remains in jail on a $100,000 cash/surety bond. A preliminary hearing was set for 1 p.m. Oct. 17.
This is not the first time Nagel has had a run-in with the local department. Gladis said he is "routinely involved" in various offenses. "He is a person who is very familiar to us," he said.
Online records show Nagel has a string of criminal offenses dating back to 2002.
Gladis said the department is still looking for the other person responsible and did not wish to disclose his identity as the investigation is ongoing. Once found he will be facing similar charges.
Gladis said the men took roughly 100 feet of the cable valued at $35 per foot. Whether the stolen cable was actually sold remains unknown at this point, he added.