SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY --
A rash of copper thefts in San Joaquin County prompts AT&T to offer hefty cash rewards of up to $10,000. The telecommunications company claims that vandals have hit up more than 50 areas within the last month.
The Stockton Police Department calls copper thefts the ‘status quo’ because they haven’t seen the number of thefts decrease throughout the years. In July, they said they noticed thieves hitting up light poles for copper, risking life and limb to make a couple bucks.
“But yeah, I mean it’s crazy,” Guillermo Cervantes, of Stockton said. Cervantes said he has seen his fair share of crazy in the City of Stockton, “(I’ve seen thieves) stealing the pot hole plates, tearing down buildings, tearing down fences, trying to get anything they can recycle off of.”
The Stockton resident added he has seen several copper thefts throughout the city.
"Right now copper wire theft in the City of Stockton [is] status quo,” Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman with the Stockton Police Department explained.
Officer Silva told FOX40 that thieves in Stockton are stripping copper from light poles.
"I mean it’s a lot of work for just a couple of bucks but yeah they’re doing it,” Cervantes commented. AT&T is stepping in and claimed there were 50 copper thefts throughout San Joaquin County in June through early July, which had disrupted service.
Back in April, a suspected copper thief was electrocuted after attempting to steal copper, according to police. Farmers throughout San Joaquin County have also been victims.
“And they strip all the wire out, then you can’t run your pumps or irrigate your crops,” Bruce Fry, of Mohr Fry Farms in Lodi told FOX40. Fry said their irrigation equipment was vandalized, the damage was a big financial hit and repairs had cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Some claim, it’s not just copper the thieves are after, it’s any kind of scrap metal that can lead to potential profit.
"Matter of fact, we had people breaking in here take the radiator to recycle them for aluminum,” Cervantes said.
Police urge witnesses to copper thefts to call the police department.