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Copper thief turns himself in after yearlong case

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 19:25:23-05

SAN PATRICIO COUNTY, Texas — A man accused of stealing $93,000 worth of copper from his job was arrested today.

San Patricio County Sheriff Oscar Rivera said they've been following this case for the past year, and calls the theft a one-man show.

"He had two large spools of copper there along with two empty ones," Rivera said. "And it looked like he had been cutting the insulation from it and he cut it in sections throughout the night there at his house. Then put it in a trailer and sell it to a scrap yard."

Ricardo Salinas Jr., 42, turned himself in after investigators said they caught him selling stolen copper to a salvage yard in Corpus Christi.

"Sure enough, he shows up with a trailer loaded with brand new, heavy gauge copper," Rivera said. "It is very unusual to have copper in that large of quantity in the amount of 2,000 pounds."

A felony warrant was issued by the Justice of the Peace in Portland.

The sheriff said they have been following this case for a year because copper is an expensive commodity.

"They are stealing it from power plants and from different locations and selling it for scrap for a large value," he said.

Rivera said the charge is serious.

"This charge is a first-degree felony," he said. "An offense that can be as much as life in prison or from 99 to five years in prison. It depends on what the court does with him."

Rivera said just this week there have been three reports of copper thefts from various locations including AEP -- which can result in power failures.