Copper Thief Arrested in Home Explosion, Collapse: Police

Charges have been filed against a man who police say stole copper pipes from a city home, subsequently causing an explosion over the weekend.

Michael Migliaccio, a.k.a. Joseph Rumor, is accused of cutting and removing copper piping from a home located at 4716 Howell Street in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia. The two-story residential house had been vacant for a year and was up for sale.

Officials say the removal of the copper piping caused a natural gas leak which led to an explosion around noon on Saturday. The home then came crashing to the ground.

Ruth Logo’s daughter ran two blocks thinking her mother’s home next door had exploded.
“Her house next door shook like an earthquake,” said Logo.

Michael Migliaccio, 35, is accused of stealing piping before a home collapsed.

Lugo and her family are among 15 people who were evacuated to a SEPTA bus for more than two hours after the explosion and collapse. PGW shut off gas to their homes as a precaution. Residents were allowed back into their homes around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday. Homeland Security also rushed to the scene as a standard practice following an explosion.

Two people were treated at the scene for minor cuts to their feet.


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Migliaccio, who lives on the 4800 block of Van Kirk Street, was taken into custody after police say he was seen leaving the home right before it collapsed. A police source says the 35-year-old ripped out copper pipes from the home for scrap metal. He is charged with causing/risking a catastrophe, burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, theft, unlawful taking and other related offenses.

“It’s very dangerous if somebody is trying to take the copper pipes,” said Philadelphia Deputy Fire Chief Robert Coyne.

A demolition crew arrived at the scene and used heavy equipment to search the rubble to make sure the house was empty.

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