EL CAJON (CNS) - Two East County residents accused in a three-month series of copper thefts that cost Lakeside-area construction companies more than half a million dollars must stand trial on grand theft, conspiracy and other charges, a judge ruled Monday.
Ronald Wayne Hyde, 50, and Christine Louise Vandecar, 47, were arrested Jan. 5 during a traffic stop in El Cajon after being under surveillance for weeks, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Their alleged crime spree began in early October and ended in the first week of January.
After a daylong preliminary hearing, El Cajon Judge John Thompson ruled that enough evidence had been presented for the defendants to stand trial.
A readiness conference is set for April 4 and trial for April 25.
San Diego County sheriff's Deputy Karl Miller said earlier that the thieves would use the cover of darkness and, in many cases, bad weather to sneak onto the properties to cut out heavy-gauge copper wire from heavy equipment and machinery. In all, seven companies along the State Route 67 corridor north of Willow Road fell victim to the bandits, Miller said.
Vandecar is suspected of serving as Hyde's driver during the crimes. She also allegedly would take Hyde, a friend and fellow El Cajon resident, around to recycling centers to turn in the copper for cash.
Employees at those scrap collection facilities helped detectives identify the suspects, based on identifying numbers on the sheathing of the stolen cable.
Including lost earnings and equipment damage, the victims are believed to have suffered combined losses in excess of $500,000, Miller said.
The San Diego Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a program intended to reward officers for making drug arrests.
Police were involved a pursuit late Saturday that ended with a deadly officer-involved shooting in Escondido.
Two people died early Sunday morning after a high-speed chase ended in a head-on crash in North County.
A man was shot and killed by police at an officer- involved shooting in Escondido, a sheriff's lieutenant said Sunday.
An approaching winter storm is poised to open an "atmospheric river" of subtropical rain clouds on Southern California this week, but the San Diego area is expected to see just a fraction of that moisture, forecasters said Sunday.
A man threw rocks at vehicles on Interstate 5 near Imperial Beach Sunday, and threatened police with a pickaxe as he ran into a riverbed.
San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins will make history Wednesday when she becomes the first woman and first lesbian to hold the California Senate's top job.
A 16-year-old boy was allegedly drunk when he crashed his car into a stopped vehicle, pinning a motorist between two bumpers, police said Sunday.
A 27-year-old man suffered fatal injuries as the result of a "punching game'' inside of a bar Saturday morning in the Gaslamp
neighborhood of San Diego.
A large plume of smoke filled the sky in Miramar on Saturday morning after a concrete supply building went up in flames.