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Three men arrested over Saanich copper thefts

Feb 25 2012

Police have arrested three men accused of stealing copper from Saanich businesses.

However, officers have not linked the arrests to the high-profile rash of copper thefts from underground conduits.

Two Saanich men were arrested at their homes Friday after plainclothes officers with the Regional Crime Unit linked them to a theft from an electrical contracting company on Glanford Avenue. The unit's focus is prolific offenders.

Officers had staked out Energy Alternatives Ltd., which has been targeted before, in the early morning of Feb. 18.

They saw two suspicious men on bikes prowling around commercial properties near Glanford and Vanalman avenues.

The plainclothes officers contacted Saanich patrol members who stopped the two men on Harriet Road and seized a 15-metre length of copper wire weighing 68 kilograms.

The wire was being hauled in a trailer attached to a bike being ridden by one of the men.

The suspects were allowed to leave until police could confirm the wire was stolen.

The men, ages 47 and 41, have been charged with one count of theft under $5,000 and one count of mischief under $5,000.

They appeared before a justice of the peace via telebail.

The development follows an arrest on Feb. 9, when regional crime unit officers conducted surveillance on a man they identified as a suspect in copper thefts in West Shore, Saanich, Esquimalt and Victoria.

The covert operation led officers to watch the man for 45 minutes as he tried to break the padlock of an electrical business in the 3300 block of Tennyson Avenue.

The man cracked the lock and was trying to enter a fenced compound where equipment, including copper wire, was stored when he was scared off by the arrival of a fuel delivery truck.

He fled on a bike and police arrested him on Burnside Road East, near Jutland Road.

A 44-year-old Victoria man, Sheldon Dion Fox, is charged with one count of break and enter with intent to commit and possession of break in tools.

Fox was released on bail with conditions until his next appearance on March 7.

Police have not yet been able to determine if the three arrested are behind the sophisticated copper heists that made news in January.

Three different police departments - West Shore, Saanich and Victoria - have been investigating at least five copper thefts since early January in which several people, possibly dressed in stolen B.C.

Hydro uniforms, climbed into manholes to haul out the wire.

B.C. Hydro called it the largest and most organized copper heist they had experienced in recent history, costing them $100,000.

The largest theft took place in Langford, where 770 metres of wire, weighing 2.2 tonnes and worth $35,000 was taken.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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