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Homeless get blamed, but not culprits
homeles crimes

There are a number of property crimes in Manteca being blamed on the homeless that actually have nothing to do with them.

Manteca Police Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly made that point during last week’s meeting with representatives of businesses that are near the emergency warming center for the homeless opening today in the former Qualex parking lot at 555 Industrial Park Drive in the Manteca Indusial Park.

The landlord of three buildings housing a water delivery firm, a testing lab, and a pharmaceutical firm that border the Qualex site shared how his tenants have been hit with everything from the theft of diesel from trucks to trash enclosure gates being stolen.

That was in addition to homeless illegally camping around their buildings, leaving trash and even tossing needles that are used for injecting illegal drugs to the ground.

“There are crimes that some homeless do commit,” Kelly said. “Stealing large gates isn’t one of them.”

Kelly said you don’t see homeless trying to bicycle around Manteca carrying large gates.

More than a few firms in Manteca have been hit with the theft of trash enclosure gates that — depending upon the size and style — can run as high as $3,000 to replace Police have checked and found recyclers in Stockton have been seeing an uptick in such things as cyclone fence gating dropped off for recycling.

While there is still theft of recyclable metal items by the homeless it is primarily out of blue City of Manteca recycling carts issued to homeowners. Once the carts are placed curbside the material inside becomes the city’s property.

After the recycling center on Moffat Boulevard that accepted scrap metal in addition to recyclable cans closed several years ago, the incident of metal theft dropped substantially in Manteca. That’s because in order to recycle such stolen items you now have to drive to either Stockton or Modesto.

There is still metal theft going on in the city but due to the fact those who travel only on either foot or bicycles have no place to take anything stolen in Manteca except for California Redemption Value  bottles and cans from recycling carts, the frequency of such thefts has declined sharply.

One landlord shared how two years ago two large cooling units on top of one building had the copper wire stripped.

A decade ago at the height of the Great Recession law enforcement pegged annual copper wire and other metal losses in Manteca at in excess of $200,000 a year by the time the stolen material, the cost of labor to replace it and repairing structural damage was taken into account.

At the time much of the theft was attributed to the homeless as well as the sheltered who were trying to support drug habits. The hardest hit structure was the shuttered electronics component assembly facility in the industrial park that opened as Indy Electronics in the 1980s and closed as TurnKey Electronics two decades later. Over a 10-year period, the extensive wiring in the building had been stripped with damages estimated at $500,000. At one point a transient looking to pull wire on the roof fell to his death through a skylight.

To illustrate the financial impact, in 2011, Manteca taxpayers spent more than $50,000 just on replacing copper wiring stolen from underground streetlight boxes.  The copper wiring was recycled for pennies on the dollar compared to what it cost to install replacement wiring.

The damage caused by copper thieves become so problematic that the city started requiring new subdivisions to literally cement over streetlight utility boxes after covering the wires with sand. When city crews need to go back and work on the lights, they will simply chisel away the concrete and then repack the wires in sand and pour cement over that again.

Between 2006 and 2011, the City of Manteca put their copper theft loses at in excess of $220,000.


 To contact Dennis Wyatt, email