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Police nab thieves with 10,000 feet of copper wire

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POSTED November 2, 2017 1:12 a.m.

While most property crimes that Lathrop Police Services respond to are crimes of opportunity, there’s one that’s driven by solely by the fluctuations in the market.
And according to Lathrop Police Chief James Hood, it’s one of the few crimes that can be thwarted or solved by vigilance on behalf of the victim.
On Monday, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested three men in Stockton that were in possession of twenty 500-foot spools of copper wire that were stolen from a job site in Lathrop – the first time in several months that wire theft has popped up on the radar of Lathrop Police investigators who claim that the crime ebbs and flows with the prices of scrap metal.
“It’s been about six months since we’ve seen something like this, and what we’ve found is that what is targeted is usually the most valuable metal at the time to recyclers,” said Hood. “Most of the time when somebody comes in with an abundance of copper like that you can tell that it’s not left over from a job and the recycling businesses are pretty good about turning those people away.
“But next week it might be steel that’s fetching the best price, or aluminum the week after that. Whenever the price goes up, the number of these incidents seems to go up.”
For business owners that fear scavengers might hit supplies at off hours, Hood recommends the installation of lighting and adopting a flexible schedule for arrivals during odd hours so that anybody watching can’t predict when somebody is going to pull up. Adding a security system that includes cameras, he said, can literally provide the evidence needed to make an arrest and more often than not provides officers with pictures of suspects that can be taken to the public for identification purposes.
That sort of a setup is also beneficial for homeowners who are worried about any sort of burglary or theft, Hood said, noting that the presence of cameras absolutely acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves.
Just recently neighborhood video footage of a vandal who was slashing tires of random vehicles in River Islands provided investigators with enough information to make an arrest within a matter of days – something that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the technological boost that film footage provided.
“We encourage everybody to be vigilant and do what they can to prevent becoming a target,” Hood said. “We had issues a few years ago when new houses were being built with people coming in and stealing brand new appliances, and today there are alarms that can put on household items like that which will alert if tripped and even give the positioning of them once they’re taken.
“We encourage people to take precautions whenever possible, to always maintain good lighting around their property, and to use a security system when possible as an extra layer of defense.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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