Chief Michael Scott gets calls about crimes all of the time, but they’re usually just from .
That wasn’t the case very early Thursday morning, June 30, though, when Scott received a call about a potential burglary in progress. The chief, understandably, assumed that a home in his jurisdiction had been victimized. Suffice it to say that he was quite surprised to find that the home was his … in Brookline.
Actually, that’s not entirely true.
The victimized home is just a house right now on Woodbourne Avenue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood, the same street where Scott has lived for the past 20 years. He inherited the vacant home after its former owner—Scott’s aunt and neighbor—died last year. He has been trying to sell it ever since.
A neighbor on Woodbourne dialed 911 at around 2:30 a.m. on June 30 after hearing power tools—later determined to be an electric saw cutting copper piping—operating in Scott’s late aunt’s home.
Pittsburgh police arrived, surrounded the house and summoned a K-9 unit. Scott was called to provide a key to the house.
“With our air conditioners in our windows at home (where Scott and his wife live), we didn’t hear the police knocking on our door,” Scott said. “One of my officers called (me) to say that there was a burglary in progress, and I thought that she meant out in Baldwin.
“‘No, no, no,’ she said. ‘City police are knocking on your door down there (in Brookline).’”
Scott said that when he answered his door and saw a city policeman, he assumed that someone was caught trying to break into the home where he was sleeping.
“He (the policeman) said, ‘It’s not here,’” Scott said. “He said, ‘We’re pretty sure that there’s somebody in your aunt’s house (down the street).’”
Scott said that police asked him for a key to prevent further damage to the vacant house that could have been caused by breaking down one of its doors.
After police used the key to gain entry, Scott said that George Joseph Assenat, 32, of Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood, gave himself up when he was told that a K-9 unit would be coming in for him. Scott said that police told Assenat that he might be bitten.
“He wanted no part of that dog,” Scott said.
Police arrested Assenat for the attempted theft of the copper, which Scott says goes for about $3 per pound. Scott said that all of the copper in the house had been removed and cut into small pieces but that the would-be thief would only have made out with about $250 worth of the stuff.
Scott said that the burglar pried open a kitchen door of the house to gain entry.
Scott said that, despite this setback to the house, he still hopes to sell it since it is in good shape and has many attractive features.
“We’ve come down on the price (for the house), and now, it’s just sitting there,” Scott said. “This is sort of like the last insult to it. I guess you have to laugh about it.
“I told the realtor, ‘The bad news is there’s no plumbing there now if you’re showing it (to a potential buyer). The good news is there’s going to be all new plumbing.’”
Scott said that the damage caused by the burglar would cost about $1,600 to repair but that he has insurance on the vacant home to cover most of that. Still, he will have to come up with a deductible, which he said would probably cost him around $500.
Scott said that when Assenat was told that he “burglarized a cop’s house,” Assenat replied, “Figures.”
Scott said that he told Assenat, who appeared quite fatigued after being arrested, “‘Boy, you were really working hard on the nightshift there.’
“He did appear very sweaty. I mean, he had every piece cut out. He was working hard. The shame of it is, if he’d devote that to some honest work, he might have something.”
Scott intends to replace the copper pipe with plastic.