HOUSTON COUNTY – “You’ll never take me alive, copper,” is one of those movie lines that was never really said. Even though Edward G. Robinson came close in the film “Little Caesar,” he never said it. Still, the phrase has worked its way into the idioms of the English language and on Thursday, June 13, copper actually did lead to an alleged thief’s downfall.

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Eric Stuart Peterson, 52 from Huntsville, was taken into custody and charged with theft of property, greater than or equal to $100,000, after he was caught allegedly pilfering copper from a vacant residence.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, on June 13, Houston County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matthew Van Egmond was dispatched to the vacant house located at 9827 State Highway 21 in reference to a suspicious vehicle at the residence.

The previous evening, a burglary had been committed at the same residence and was already under investigation.

When the deputy arrived at the location, he observed a female subject standing next to a small, white car parked on ramps.

While speaking with the female “… a male, later identified as Eric Peterson came walking up from around the back of the residence. Deputy Van Egmond talked to both parties, who stated that they had permission from the home owner to be on the property and to get the property owner’s belongings,” the affidavit reported.

The residence is owned by Pioneer Bank.

As he began to investigate, the deputy observed a set of tools located on the hood of the car which Peterson claimed were his. Van Egmond began to look around the vacant house and noticed “… the same tools from the open tool set on the hood of the vehicle on a stand near the breaker box. While observing the breaker box, Deputy Van Egmond saw the wires that run from the meter box to the breaker box had been tampered with. It appeared to Deputy Van Egmond that Eric may have been in the process of stealing the copper wire,” the affidavit stated.

During his investigation, the deputy noticed all the doors and windows were open and while walking through the residence, he noticed several wall sockets had been removed and the wires were sticking out of the wall.

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Peterson was arrested at the scene and transported to the Houston County Jail where he was booked into custody on one count of theft of property in an amount greater than or equal to $100,000, a second degree felony. His female companion was not detained.

According to Section 12.33 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 20 years or less than two years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”