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By Lisa Redmond

MediaNews

AYER — A month after Tristin P. Murray was in court being charged with a series of nearly two dozen car break-ins, he was back in court this week facing charges of breaking into a foreclosed home and stealing $200 worth of copper pipes and wire.

But Ayer police say the person who told police about Murray’s alleged copper theft was his alleged partner-in-crime in the car break-ins, according to court documents.

In Ayer District Court on Wednesday, Murray, 19, of 14 Williams St., Ayer, pleaded not guilty to charges of breaking and entering into a building, malicious destruction of property and larceny over $250.

Judge James Barretto released Murray on personal recognizance on this case. Murray is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Jan. 13.

Muirray is already being held on $6,500 cash bail in the car break- in case.

According to court documents, a Chelmsford police detective contacted Ayer police in September concerning the Aug. 29 theft of copper from a home in Ayer.

Chelmsford police had Hugh Keaney, 20, of 128 Washington St., Ayer, in custody on an unrelated offense when Keanney allegedly told police about Murray breaking into a home for sale in Ayer to steal copper.

Keaney and Murray are co-defendants in the car break-in case in which both men have pleaded not guilty to 39 charges, including 21 counts of breaking and entering a vehicle, 14 counts of larceny under $250, malicious damage to a motor vehicle, breaking and entering into a building, malicious destruction of property, and receiving stolen property for a series of car break-ins and one housebreak in November in Ayer.

Ayer police caught the pair but pulling a page from the script of the truTV reality show Bait Car.

Ayer police set a trap using an unlocked Ford Taurus parked in one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Valuables, including change, a GPS and some jewelry, were left in plain view. They then rigged the car with a hidden video camera to catch a thief.

The camera caught a man, later identified as Hugh Keaney, in the act of stealing items from the vehicle. When Keaney was confronted by police, he allegedly fingered Murray as his accomplice.

In the copper-theft case, Ayer police say Keaney told detectives that he and Murray were roommates. Murray allegedly told Keaney that he had kicked in the back door of a house for sale in Ayer and ripped the cooper pipes out of the basement to be sold a scrap.

Keaney told police that Murray asked his friend if he wanted to return to the house and take the remainder of the copper wiring in the house, but Keaney go.

Murray allegedly told Keaney that he took the stolen copper pipes and wire to a Fitchburg business where he was paid about $200, according to court documents.

Keaney had initially told police the house was on Columbia Street, but then spotted a house for sale off Columbia Street on Cambridge Street that fit the description, court documents state.

When police entered the house, they noticed all the copper supply lines and wiring had been removed, documents state.