Man arrested for copper wire theft at Tucson power plant

Posted: Updated:
Manuel Castaneda By Jennifer Thomas Manuel Castaneda By Jennifer Thomas

TUCSON, Ariz. – Tucson police arrested a man suspected of stealing copper wire from the Tucson Electric Power Company.

Personnel from the company contacted police on Nov. 14 after a suspected metal theft at the main power plant facility located at 3950 E. Irvington Road, according to Sgt. Maria Hawke.

Employees believed that approximately 150 feet of copper wire, both scrap wire and new wire, was stolen between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11.

The value of the stolen copper wire was estimated at approximately $2,800.

Investigators assigned to the Pawn/Metal Theft Unit located the stolen wire and recovered it from a local scrap yard. They also identified Manuel Castaneda, 31, as the person responsible for the copper wire theft and subsequent transaction at the local scrap yard.

The investigators learned that Castaneda had scrapped more than 1,000 pounds of copper wire between Nov. 6 and Nov. 10 at a second scrap yard location. This additional wire also was recovered.

Hawke said both scrap yards appropriately documented the transactions involving the scrap copper wire that they purchased from Castaneda, which helped in the recovery of the stolen wire and identification of the suspect.

Investigators said Castaneda had been involved in scrapping various metals for about a year, earning more than $13,000 in profit.

Hawke said Castaneda worked for a subcontractor of a general contractor who worked at Tucson Electric Power's main power plant. Investigators said he used his position as a subcontractor employee to gain access to TEP secured lots and facilities.

Castaneda was arrested on Tuesday for two felony counts of theft and two felony counts of trafficking in stolen property. He was transported and booked into the Pima County Jail.

Hawke said the investigation continues as it is possible that there are additional victims in various areas of Pima and Cochise counties.