Cambridge residents caught stealing copper

Jeffrey Hage
Princeton Union Eagle

Two Cambridge residents may have thought they got away with their crime after eluding  their accuser in the dust on a dirt road in rural Mille Lacs County.

But an alert off-duty officer had jotted down the car’s license plate number and used a Department of Vehicle Services photograph to identify the suspects, which led to an arrest at a Cambridge apartment building.

Peggy J. Dutcher, 40, and her boyfriend, who has yet to be charged, are now facing felony burglary charges for allegedly stealing copper from a vacant house that was on the market for sale.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court: On Sept. 26 two people — including an off-duty officer— looked at the house on 50th Street southwest of Princeton because it was for sale. They returned to look at the house the next day and caught Dutcher and her boyfriend in the act, so to speak. Now Dutcher and her boyfriend are facing felony burglary charges after being caught stealing the copper.

According to the complaint, there was a bluish-green car with its trunk open parked at the back door of the residence when the house-viewers arrived at the home. The front door had been booted in since the two were at the house the night before.

Two people, a male and a female later identified as Dutcher and her boyfriend exited the residence. When questioned by the off-duty officer, they said they were waiting for a realtor to arrive.

The officer asked Dutcher and her boyfriend if they could wait with them for the realtor. They answered yes, the report states. After a few minutes Dutcher and her boyfriend entered their vehicle and took off out of the driveway. A check of the license plate number showed that the vehicle was registered to Dutcher.

A responding deputy found that the front door jamb was broken and found that several pieces of copper had been cut in the downstairs area of the residence. A set of shearing clippers with a name inscribed on a repaired handle was also found at the scene.

A sheriff’s department investigator contacted the man identified on the clippers. He said he had been burglarized on Sept. 20.

In the meantime, Dutcher’s car had been located in Cambridge where records show Dutcher lived with her boyfriend.

The investigator went to the residence but was unsuccessful in making contact with Dutcher and her boyfriend. Authorities, did, however, secure the vehicle and had it towed to Milaca for forfeiture purposes, the complaint states.

Before leaving, the investigator returned to the apartment again, at which time Dutcher answered the door. Authorities would soon learn that her boyfriend had been at the apartment but had fled the scene.

Dutcher was interviewed by investigators and admitted in a taped statement that she was at the rural Princeton home with her boyfriend and that they were cutting copper so they could sell it for money, the complaint states.

She also admitted to another burglary between Dalbo and Braham where the two had also taken copper from a residence.