Accused copper theft to be sentenced - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Accused copper theft to be sentenced

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EL CAJON (CNS) - Sentencing is scheduled Monday for an East County man who admitted involvement in a series of copper thefts that cost Lakeside-area construction companies more than half a million dollars.

Ronald Wayne Hyde, 50, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of grand theft and an allegation that the loss exceeded $65,000. Hyde is expected to be sentenced to two years and four months in state prison.

Co-defendant Christine Louise Vandecar, 47, also pleaded guilty to grand theft and will be sentenced May 19.

The two 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 crime spree began in early October and ended in the first week of January.

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.

Authorities said Vandecar served as Hyde's driver during the crimes. She also 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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