'Bathroom bandit' caught by Warwick detectives
According to a press release on Jan. 31, Warwick detectives arrested Christopher J. Stewart, 58, of 99 Chestnut Hill Ave. in Cranston on Thursday and charged him with seven counts of misdemeanor and two felony counts of larceny.
Police said the investigation was launched on Jan. 23, after an employee at the Wendy’s Restaurant, 650 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, called police to report the theft of bathroom plumbing fittings from their men’s room. Since that date, eight similar incidents occurred over a period of seven days, with the most recent being yesterday, with the theft of an automatic flush valve from the bathroom of the Pilgrim Senior Center on Warwick Avenue.
The investigation determined that Stewart was stealing brass and other plumbing fixtures to sell for scrap. In one incident, over $1,500 worth of automatic flush valves were removed from a public restroom.
“He knew what he was doing,” said Det. Capt. Robert Nelson of the Warwick Police. “What he would do is go into the bathrooms with a wrench and shut off the water [feeder pipe] and then quickly remove the nuts and he was out with it [the fixture] in minutes … just like that.”
The investigation determined that various flush valves are worth $10 to $15 each at a scrap yard when their retail value can range from $150 to $400 depending on the style.
Stewart was charged by Warwick Police and held at their headquarters pending arraignment on the nine larceny counts.