By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested three people Monday in connection with the theft of copper wire from a barn west of Portales.
Sheriff’s deputies had been struggling to stop thefts of wire this summer driven by increases in the price of scrap copper, according to the sheriff’s office. Officers say they have been mostly stymied by the inability to connect wiring back to a particular theft, leaving them with two options: Getting recyclers to scrutinize more closely those selling the wire or catching the thieves in the act.
Officers said they caught thieves in the act Monday thanks to an alert property owner.
At 3:01 p.m. officers were dispatched to a farm approximately 8.5 miles west of Portales on N.M. 267 for a burglary call in which copper wiring had been stripped from the walls of a barn, according to a RCSO press release.
The landowner told officers two males had been dropped off in the area by a small blue car, according to the release. While officers were investigating, the car drove past. A radio call resulted in the car being stopped and the female driver being arrested, according to the release. A short time later, two male subjects were located hiding in a field on nearby Roosevelt Road A/B, according to the release.
A search warrant was executed on the vehicle and receipts for copper wire and aluminum sold to a Clovis recycling center were found, according to the release. Also found were multiple pairs of wire cutting tools, four individual bags of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
Alma Jimenez, 32, is charged with accessory to burglary, possession of burglary tools, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. She remains in Roosevelt County Detention Center on $25,000 bond.
Louis Duran III, 33, is charged with commercial burglary, tampering with evidence, possession of burglary tools and probation violation. He is being held the RCDC without bond.
Pedro Galvan, 51, is charged with commercial burglary, tampering with evidence and possession of burglary tools. He is in RCDC on a $15,000 bond.
The increase if copper thefts in rural areas has been in the news several times in recent months.
“I think people are becoming more aware because we put it out in the media,” Chief Deputy Malin Parker said. “The more eyes we have, the better off we’ll be.”
Parker said identifying suspects has been easy, but catching them in the act has been more difficult. He said they know now they’re being watched and help from recyclers may also be making thieves think twice.