Suspect Arrested in Storage Unit Thefts

Charles Leroy Piper III was arrested this week on allegations he cut the locks on multiple units along National Road last week and stole equipment from a drilling company.

Magistrate Patricia Murphy arraigned Piper, 34, of Wheeling on a felony charge of breaking and entering. He remains in the Northern Regional Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond.

According to court filings, Piper was captured on video surveillance cutting the locks on storage units owned by Liberty Distribution along National Road the morning of Oct. 3.

Those units were leased by Chesapeake Energy. The company reported missing more than $4,000 worth of equipment, including multiple 60-pound industrial batteries and various pieces of metal and piping.

Piper was identified as the suspect after the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department released the surveillance video to the public.

While executing a search warrant at Piper’s home on Jones Street on Thursday, a sheriff’s deputy recovered stolen tools and a television, court filings state.

Piper was not at the home, but spoke with the deputy over the phone and agreed to meet him at the sheriff’s department. He was arrested on the way, however, on a warrant out of Belmont County charging failure to report to jail.

Police are investigating similar break-ins to storage units that have occurred throughout the city in recent weeks.

They provided the sheriff’s department with a list of items that were stolen in those crimes before the deputy searched Piper’s residence. Police Detective Greg McKenzie did not know if any of those items were discovered during the search.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 21 before Senior Status Magistrate Howard Carpenter. Court records Friday did not list an attorney for Piper.