Police investigate cases of copper theft


In Benicia, police arrested two men Wednesday morning after finding copper wire had been stolen from the softball field at the Benicia Middle School.

Police responded to an alarm at the school at 1100 Southampton Road around 1:30 a.m., Lt. Mike Daley said.

Cpl. Jeff Harris discovered damage to electrical boxes, including a missing lid and cut wires near the school's softball fields, Daley said.

Officer Jake Heinemeyer and K-9 "Jazz" found James Forrest Bell, 38, and Michael Lloyd Edwards, 26, hiding in some bushes nearby, Daley said.

A school employee determined that copper wire had been stolen, but police didn't find the wire, Daley said.

Bell and Edwards admitted to damaging the electrical boxes and cutting some of the wire in an attempt to steal it but they said that had not actually taken any wiring, Daley said.

Both men were booked into Solano County Jail on charges of felony grand theft, vandalism, conspiracy to commit a crime and a misdemeanor charge of possession of burglary tools.

Edwards initially provided a false name and was also booked on that felony charge and for violating his probation, Daley said.

He was wanted on Solano County warrants for another felony probation violation and for misdemeanor reckless driving, according to Daley.

Police did not find any wires in a Nissan the two men had parked at a nearby apartment complex, Daley said.

Daley said copper thefts are on the rise and that thieves from other cities are targeting sites in Benicia.

Middle school officials estimated the incident caused $1,200 in damage to the wires and $400 in damage to the electrical boxes, Daley said.

In north Richmond, ABC7 News cameras were on-board Amtrak's Capitol Corridor train when police spotted three suspects loading wire into the back of a truck. Officers jumped off the train, and with guns drawn, arrested the three men

Scrap copper sells for about $4.25 a pound.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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