LOCKPORT, NY-The Niagara County Sheriff's Department held a news conference Monday afternoon to announce two arrests in a July house explosion in the Town of Niagara.
The Military Road house was leveled by the blast and that home and the business next door were condemned.
Sheriff James Voutour say 37-year-old Eric Waterstram of Niagara Falls, NY, and 28-year-old Crystal Knepp of Newfane, NY, were stealing copper tubing in the basement when they detached a gas pipe in the process. They left the vacant home with the metal, leaving behind serious damage.
"The house filled up with gas, and after a 16 or 18 hour period, that has ignited and blew up the house," said Voutour in a press conference Monday afternoon.
They were charged with 2nd degree burglary, 2nd degree criminal mischief, and petit larceny. Waterstram is being held on $25,000 bail and Knepp is being held on $10,000 bail. Police say both have been arrested on felony charges in the past.
Police say they were able to arrest Waterstram and Knepp by acting on a tip. Investigators say the scrapyard that bought the copper was also cooperative.
"There's a big market for those that are unemployed, out of work, or just plain criminals to go out and steal this and turn it into instant cash very quickly," said Voutour.
Investigators said they did not find evidence that the pair intended to cause an explosion, or there would have been more charges.
"Basically with the state of New York it has to be intentional," said investigator Dan Brown. "Doesn't show any intent here, it shows that they acted recklessly."