July 11. 2013 11:54AM

Salem police dog tracks scent half mile to catch copper thief

SALEM — "Trigger" the police dog tracked a Massachusetts man's scent for more than a half mile late Wednesday before police arrested him for stealing copper from a vacant home, authorities said Thursday.

Richard McPhee, 34, was charged with burglary, simple assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief as well as being wanted on a bench warrant out of Plaistow, police said. He refused bail. A Salem woman, Julia Auler, 44, was charged with accomplice to burglary, receiving stolen property and possession of a controlled drug (Hydrocodone). She was held on $10,000 cash bail.

Neighbors reported seeing a suspicious vehicle circling the area and thought they could see a person walking around inside the vacant house at 25 Dustin Road.

Trigger trailed a scent to a backyard on Eyssi Drive where a man later identified as McPhee was found trying to conceal himself, authorities said. As Trigger located the man, McPhee began to kick at the dog, police said. After a brief struggle, McPhee was taken into custody.

Police said they later located the suspicious vehicle and arrested Auler, the driver.

Officers discovered copper pipe had been cut out of the vacant home and piled in a trash barrel by the door. Police believe McPhee was inside stripping copper while Auler was waiting to pick him up. Both are suspects in another residential burglary in the area the previous night, police said.

Just as Officer Dan Nelson and Trigger were clearing their search, Pelham police requested the K9 for mutual aid.

Pelham police wanted help tracking a woman involved in a domestic disturbance who had an active arrest warrant and who had fled the scene on foot, according to Salem police. The wanted woman was found hiding about a half mile into the woods. Pelham police took her into custody.