FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --After four separate incidents since early March officials have a video of who, investigators said, is a copper wire thief. This latest crime happened at Steinbeck Elementary School, which is the fourth Central Unified school to be victim of copper wire theft, or attempted copper wire theft, in the last seven weeks.
"If you recognize the vehicle, recognize the person, it sure would be nice if you would call Fresno police and help us out so we can end this nonsense," said Mark Sutton, superintendent.
In the video, the suspect is seen walking and driving around campus, casing the building. Then, after some time, he parks a white van and makes his move-- using a bolt cutter to break through the lock and steal thousands of dollars in copper wire.
Police said, the roughly 5 foot 8 inch suspect with a goatee or beard, drove a van that has a distinct feature.
"The suspect was in a van, a white van, it has a stripe that goes all the way down the van. Not the side, but the top of the van and on the hood. A black stripe," said Lt. Joe Gomez, Fresno Police Department.
The crime cut off power to the entire school, and maintenance crews had to work for several hours to make sure everything was working in the classroom by the time kids arrived.
The incident marks the fourth time since last month that a Central Unified school has been targeted by copper wire thieves.
On March 5th someone used a jackhammer to break into the district office, leaving all schools at Central Unified without Internet or a working phone line for several days. A month later two more schools, including River Bluff Elementary School, were targeted. Sutton said the crimes are a major hindrance and cost the district a lot of money.
"There's been some cases where we've had to bring a generator in because we couldn't get the power back up. So, we were fortunate in this case they didn't take as much wire and we were able to do things a little quicker."
Detectives said in this latest case the thief stole 480 feet of copper wire.
Fresno police are now working on identifying the suspect but hope anyone with information on him comes forward.