Suspected copper crook caught in old morgue

Friday, May 04, 2012

Detectives said they caught a copper thief in the act Friday morning at the old coroner's office in West Central Fresno. Deputies arrested 33-year-old Bill Jack Curry at the scene of the break-in. Curry was released from jail Friday afternoon.

Deputies estimate the damages around $25,000. They tell Action News Curry had broken into the morgue earlier in the week. So, they set up surveillance, which was tripped when they say Curry broke in around 3am Friday.

Fresno County officials took Action News inside to see the damage. Several dozen wires in the electrical room were cut.

Larry Wages oversees maintenance for the empty county-owned building. He said the lines are so butchered if the building were still in use it would have no electricity running through it.

Fresno County detectives said they found Billy Jack Curry inside the building. "He had been there long enough to rip about $600 worth of wire out of the wall, had it coiled up when deputies arrived," said Sgt. Michael Chapman.

Sgt. Chapman said Curry had broken into the old morgue earlier in the week. And sure enough, he said, Curry crawled back through this hole in the fence. Only this time deputies were alerted of the break-in and responded in minutes.

They found a back door pried open and Curry, they said, was stopped cold when they discovered him trying to remove all of this wiring.

"There was one other occasion that we found folks on the property," Wages said.

The building has sat unused since January when the county opened a new coroner's office. "It's very disappointing," Wages said. "We're trying to sell it, so we're trying to maintain the building and not have any damage to the building so we can put it on the market."

Deputies said they're concerned the building is now a target for break-ins. So, both Sheriff's officials and county security will be monitoring this property.

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crimetracker, copper wire theft, fresno, fresno county, local, rick montanez
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