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Alleged Copper Thieves Had a Bold Scheme

Florida police say they dressed as a work crew, stole it from manhole
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2021 9:06 AM CST

(Newser) – What's the best way to rob $30,000 worth of copper wiring? Police say a group of thieves attempted to pull off the odd heist in plain sight by posing as a nighttime construction crew in Hempstead, Fla., reports WSVN. And it might have worked had police not been wise to the scheme because of a previous copper theft. Five men dressed in hardhats and fluorescent vests and looking for all the world like an actual road crew began working at a manhole around midnight Sunday, reports the Miami Herald. They yanked the wire belonging to AT&T out of the hole, loaded it onto a trailer, and drove away, only to be stopped by police soon after, according to the arrest report.

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As it turns out, a Homestead officer suspicious of the crew called AT&T and confirmed that no work crew was supposed to be at the site that night. Police say the scheme had two main steps: First, the thieves cut the wire and capped it, thus preventing the damage from being noticed by AT&T. A few days later, when all seemed safe, they returned to collect the cut wire. The five men charged are Francisco Alberto Gutierrez, 50, Ivan Perez Garcia, 55, Eric Gonzalez-Pando, 24, Ermes Gonzalez-Pando, 24, and Yordan Ramirez, 41. All face charges including theft and criminal mischief. The wire would be worth $30,000 on the black market, and an AT&T investigator says damages exceed $50,000. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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