Copper thieves hit Modesto school, cause power outage

10/04/2013 4:33 PM

10/04/2013 10:02 PM

Power was temporarily out at Beard Elementary School on Friday morning after Modesto police arrested two men suspected of attempting to steal copper wire.

Officers responded to an alarm at the school, 915 Bowen Ave., about 5:30 a.m., said Modesto police Sgt. Rick Applegate.

He said the suspects had cut the power to five portable classrooms on the campus and were preparing to pull several feet of copper wire from its conduit when officers surrounded the school.

Both suspects ran from police but were caught a short time later in the area.

Brice Page, 20, and Scott Carey 26, both of Modesto, were arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, conspiracy and possession of burglary tools.

Modesto City Schools spokeswoman Becky Fortuna said power was restored to two of the classrooms by 8 a.m., half an hour before the start of school.

The three classrooms without power house the library and resource classes for students who need additional help with schoolwork. The resource students met in a different class Friday, and eight classes scheduled to go to the library instead participated in physical education, Fortuna said. Power was back on in those classrooms at 3 p.m.

Electricians were able to splice some of the wires but others had to be replaced, amounting to an estimated cost of $5,000 to the school district, Fortuna said.

Applegate said repairs in these cases usually cost much more than the actual value of the metal that is taken.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about this incident to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters can also text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Type “TIP704” along with the message.

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