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Accomplice in Salem copper theft gets jail time

BRENTWOOD - A 44-year-old Salem woman pleaded guilty to helping a man steal hundreds of dollars in copper piping from an empty house.

Julia Auler pleaded guilty in Rockingham County Superior Court on Tuesday to three burglary-related charges for taking part in removing approximately $1,700 worth of copper piping from a home on Duston Road in Salem last July 10.Auler was given a time-served sentence after serving 198 days in county jail. A judge agreed to suspend the remainder of a one-year jail sentence. Auler also received a suspended 1½- to 3-year state prison term that prosecutors can seek to impose if she violates the terms of her plea agreement, according to court records.Auler was arrested by Salem police last July 10 along with Richard McPhee, 34, of Haverhill, Mass. who is facing charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

Salem police were called to the home on Dustin Road at 11:37 p.m. for a report of suspicious activity. Neighbors reported seeing a car circling the area and possibly a person walking inside a vacant house on the road.Salem police used a police dog to check the property. The dog tracked a suspect for a half mile through a field, over stone walls and a 6-foot fence, police said.

McPhee was hiding in a yard on Eyssi Drive, where he was found by the dog and taken into custody after a brief struggle, police said.Auler was stopped in her car and taken into custody a short time later, police said.After the two were arrested, police discovered copper pipe had been cut out of the house and had been piled up in a trash barrel by the door. Investigators believe McPhee was stripping the copper in the home while Auler was waiting to pick him up once he was finished. Had Auler been convicted at trial, she could have faced up to 3½ to 7 years in state

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