Ring of six copper thieves caught in Southern California

Fueled by high prices for scrap metal, copper wire theft is a problem around the world. Recently, Southern California seems to be a hotbed for copper wire thefts with a number of arrests in the last few months.

In mid-June, a ring of six thieves was arrested for stealing thousands of pounds of copper wire. The case began when a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy noticed a suspicious man near a vacant building. After deputies and local police officers searched the building, they interrupted a copper wire theft in progress and arrested the man. They also arrested a woman hiding in the bushes outside the building. During the investigation, deputies discovered evidence leading them to believe a copper-theft ring was being run out of a nearby house. When they went to the house, police arrested two men fleeing on foot and two women hiding in the house. In the house, they found several thousands pounds of copper wiring.

In a case in May, a group of three neighbors in Devore, CA. interrupted a theft in progress and chased down the thieves. The three neighbors, two women and one man, were outside when they noticed three men in the canyon below scaling power poles and cutting down phone lines. The man called 911 and gave a description of the thieves’ pickup truck. When done, the caller’s wife and the two women jumped in cars to follow the thieves. The first woman was able to give police the license plate number as well. Ultimately, the two thieves were arrested.

Verizon reports that thefts like this are on the rise. In that area alone, Verizon reported 35 incidents of copper thefts this year. The result of this particular theft left residents of the area without telephone and Internet service for several days.

Some cases don’t end well as the ones above. There have been a number of cases where the thieves have been electrocuted while using bolt cutters on live wires or tampering with electrical equipment. The latest incident was in April of this year.

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