Two alleged metal thieves caught after sting at Sheffield salvage yard
SHEFFIELD -- After a week of frigid surveillance near a local auto salvage business, Sheffield Police arrested two New York men early Friday morning in an alleged break-in.
Officers endured hours of surveillance work in an unheated vehicle, Chief Eric Munson said, before making one arrest at George Mielke Used Auto Parts at 100 Lime Kiln Road, near Route 7. When a second suspect fled on foot, all town police and the chief were called in, and working with state troopers and officers from Great Barrington, the second suspect was tracked down and captured.
The police began the undercover nighttime surveillance a week ago after the business owner reported that copper and other salvage materials were being stolen.
Arrested were Seymour Shackleton, 54, of the Catskill, N.Y., area, the owner of the Jeep Cherokee the men allegedly were loading when he was arrested, and David Feller, 44, of Hudson, N.Y., who Munson said led police on the chase.
Sheffield Officer David Monyahan, the lead investigator, and Officer Justin Biasin were watching the site around 4:45 a.m. when the suspects were spotted, Munson said. Shackleton was taken into custody, but Feller fled and was tracked by a canine unit from Great Barrington and also by a state police helicopter using thermal imaging equipment in an attempt to spot the suspect through body heat.
However, Munson said Feller was finally tracked through his cellphone and captured.
The rest of the Sheffield department was called in to help seal off the area with the assistance of state police and Great Barrington officers, Munson said.
Feller is charged with larceny over $250, trespassing, resisting arrest, and breaking and entering a vehicle in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony. Shackleton was charged with aiding and abetting in a break-in, larceny over $250, and trespassing.
The men were arraigned by telephone during the afternoon, Munson said, and each was ordered held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on $10,000 cash bail.
"This was really a department-wide investigation," Munson said, "with all full-time and many part-time officers taking part. This was a job well done."
In addition, he said, "we got great cooperation from state police and from Great Barrington Police in this operation."
"We are all glad these guys got caught," said Don Mielke, whose father, George Mielke, bought the family-operated salvage business in 1963.
Thefts of copper, brass and other materials began a week ago, he said, and there was evidence of missing items every two days before the arrests.
"The police did a spectacular job," Mielke said Friday. "They went above and beyond. You wouldn't believe how many cops were out here last night."
Feller, who recently was released from a federal prison, was wanted on a federal probation violation warrant, Munson said. He was interviewed Friday by officers from Hudson, N.Y., as well, the chief said, adding that both men are being investigated for possible involvement in similar crimes in Massachusetts.
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