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Union Pacific Railroad damaged by copper wire thieves

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three people are accused of stealing 500 feet of copper wire from Union Pacific Railroad.

Madera County Deputies arrested 53 year old Bonnie Baker, 45 year old Bret Harmon and 46 year old Terrie Metzler after an anonymous caller tipped investigators about suspicious activity near Avenue 12 and Highway 99 on Saturday morning.

It took investigators less than 24 hours to arrest the trio. Spokesman Erica Stuart says, "everything is free game to these people. And I think what's so tragic is the minimum amount of money that they're going to make from a theft pales in comparison to what it costs for the repair and damages."

A Union Pacific spokesman says both freight and passenger trains often have to be halted after a theft of this magnitude, as the wiring affects the signal system. Aaron Hunt told Action News reporter Stephanie Stone "Whenever that copper wire is stripped from our network, Union Pacific trains have to be held until we can go out, address the problem and make a repair."

The repair costs in this case are estimated at 60 thousand dollars.

The suspects were charged with vandalism and theft.

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