Security officer catches construction site thief in act

Feb. 2--FREMONT -- After a more than three-hour stakeout, police arrested a man on suspicion of copper theft at a condominium complex early Friday morning.

A security guard called police about 12:40 a.m. to alert them that a man was pulling wire from the complex, which is under construction near the intersection of Warm Springs Boulevard and Kato Road, Detective Bill Veteran said.

Officers found a pickup truck with a large quantity of copper cable parked outside the complex, Veteran said.

With the help of a California Highway Patrol helicopter and officers from Milpitas, police set up a perimeter around the complex and set out to locate the thief.

Dax, a police dog, was sent in to flush the thief to the complex's fifth-story rooftop, Veteran said.

From there, the man started running and jumping, Sgt. Chris Humell told KCBS News. "The man ended up jumping out of a third-story window into some dirt and tried unsuccessfully to run away," Humell told the news agency.

Police arrested Aaron Davidson, 28, of Fremont in connection with the theft, Veteran said. He was arrested on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

Copper thefts have been on the rise in recent years, Veteran said.

The thefts are particularly popular among drug addicts, he added, because there is less chance of confrontation and the stolen wire can be easily turned into cash at recycling centers.

"It's a huge problem, not only in Fre-mont, but throughout the Bay Area," Veteran said.

School districts have been particularly hard hit.

Fremont Unified has lost more than $157,000 from copper thefts this school year, school officials said. New Haven Unified has lost about $100,000, and Newark Unified, more than $50,000.

The copper thieves have hit six New Haven schools and five Fremont schools, officials said. Two Newark schools were hit during the recent holiday break.

Thefts of electrical wire often causes thousands of dollars in damage to heating and air-conditioning systems, leaving classrooms without heat or light, school officials said.

Fremont reporter Matthew Artz can be reached at 510-353-7002 or martz@bayareanewsgroup.com For more local news, go to the Tri-City Beat Blog at http://www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Argus, Fremont, Calif. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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