Two accused East County residents to stand trial for copper thef - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Two accused East County residents to stand trial for copper theft

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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.

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