An attempt to catch copper thieves with the help of watchful residents proved successful for Stafford Township police.

Since Hurricane Sandy, the many damaged and abandoned houses have been targets of more than 50 burglaries, according to Lt. Thomas Dellane.

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A meeting with residents in February created an informal neighborhood watch program that resulted in the arrest of Richard Brown, 43, of Howell, on March 26.

Police said a neighbor called to report an unauthorized person in the house at 1294 Millcreek Road. Brown told police he was working for a local contractor and checking to see if the house was ready for demolition.

After verifying with the named contractor and homeowner, police discovered Brown had given false information.

Brown was arrested and charged with burglary, after police found copper pipes in the rear of his vehicle, and was taken to Ocean County jail with bail set at $30,000, Dellane said.

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