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Man arrested for cutting down power poles

July 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities have a man in custody who allegedly hacked down power poles to gain access to the transformers in the Inland Empire. The transformers can be worth as much as $1,500 each. So, with the price of scarce metals on the rise, reports of thieves stealing metal has gone up as well.

In March, Beaumont Police and the Edison Company reported thieves cut down a power pole and removed three transformers.

"Nine o'clock in the morning ... a lot of light ... and we didn't get any phone calls from anybody passing by," said Beaumont Police Dept. Sergeant Darin Wann.

The incident occurred in daylight, just off the 10 Freeway near Oak Valley Boulevard. Sgt. Wann said the poles were likely activated, however, he did not know whether residents' power was affected by the incident. Sgt. Wann also says the suspect must have had some background in electricity.

Last week, in La Quinta, Gary Gaylor was arrested and charged with the felony theft.

Many cities, including Beaumont, have been hit by metal thieves. All this activity is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

"I was saying we've had other copper theft, to include wire that runs under the streets. And again, it has cost the city no less than $40,000 to replace," said Sgt. Wann.

"It's quite upsetting. It's costing us a lot of money. The city is losing money and taxpayers are losing money," said Ben Thomas, a Beaumont resident.

"It should be up to the recycling yards to turn those people away. That's the only thing that is going to stop it," said Beaumont resident Jeff Steffan.

Investigators say more people were involved in this incident because the transformers are very heavy. One person did witness them placing one of the gray cylinders into a vehicle, and then taking off.

Police advise residents to call the nearest police station if they observe any strange activity.

 

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