Pair arrested in copper theft

A man and woman arrested over the weekend after being found with stolen copper wire and burglary tools are being considered as persons of interest in connection with a series of copper thefts in the area. Investigations Sgt. Allan Shields said the arrest occurred early Sunday morning at the Park and Ride parking lot near Sycamore Valley Road.

Shields said that at 2:25 a.m. Sunday morning, A Danville police officer was on patrol when he saw a man identified as Corey Whorton, 36, of Martinez walking on Sycamore Valley Road at the I-680 overpass. After determining that Whorton was on probation, the officer conducted a search of the suspect which turned up burglary tools.

After taking Whorton into custody for probation violation, the officer conducted a search of the area and found a woman, identified as Lynda Higham, 47 of Concord, waiting in a vehicle at the Park and Ride. A search of the vehicle revealed burglary tools and an amount of copper wire valued at more than $200. Shields said the wire appeared to have been stolen from Cal Trans junction boxes on I-680 near La Gonda Way.

Both Whorton and Higham were arrested and transported to the Martinez Detention Center. Higham was charged with Grand Theft, Conspiracy, Possession of Stolen Property and Possession of Burglary Tools. She is being held on $60,000 bond. Whorton was booked on the same charges as well as an additional count of Probation Violation. He is currently being held without bail.

It is not known at this time if the two were involved in the recent copper thefts at Danville area parks. During the past week, Town Maintenance staff reported thefts at both Osage and Hap Magee parks. At Osage, 50 5” by 8” plaques were stolen from the Rose Memorial. Estimated cost to replace the plaques has been set at $10,000. At Hap Magee, wiring was cut and removed from four junction boxes, affecting pathway lights at the park facility. Cost to repair the damage has been estimated at $4,000.

Shields said the thieves are targeting the copper wire with the intent of reselling it. “They pull the wire out and then they take strippers or a box cutter and strip off the insulation,” he explained.

Over the past year, the Town has reported other incidents of wire being pulled from conduits for resale as well. Because this type of crime seems to be on the rise, police are asking residents to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in or around power boxes.

“If you observe someone acting suspiciously near any power boxes or observe anyone in the park after hours, please don’t hesitate to call the police at 820-2144,” Shields stated.

Danville Parks are open between dawn and dusk. Lighted sports fields are available by reservation only.