Thieves ravage historic mines

Published on February 9th, 2010 | by Admin

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mine
Thieves have been stealing massive iron objects from some of California’s historic mines due to high prices for scrap metal.
In the past two years, thefts of iron objects have been reported at four historic mine sites in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, as well as from two historic buildings in downtown San Andreas.
In the most recent incident, an employee at the Calaveras Arts Council arrived at work Jan. 4 to discover two 10-foot-tall fire doors, each weighing about 300 pounds, were gone.
The Arts Council was lucky. Less than a week later, Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department investigators found the doors at a home in San Andreas. Douglas Alameda of San Andreas was arrested on a charge of possessing stolen property, and the doors were returned.
But historians, historic property owners and public officials say the problem is much larger than Alameda.
“One person couldn’t have ever handled that, and they’ve only arrested one,” Penny West, executive director of the Arts Council, said of the door theft.

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Thieves have been stealing massive iron objects from some of California’s historic mines due to high prices for scrap metal.

In Tuolumne County, authorities are prosecuting three men charged with using trucks, cutting torches and other heavy equipment to take metal from mine sites and sell for scrap in Stockton and Modesto.

Remote locations and a lack of witnesses initially hampered the Tuolumne County investigation. After hearing a report that the historic Buchanan Mine site was being looted in August 2008, for example, a Stanislaus National Forest patrol captain went to the site only to find that “a historic processing plant had been completely stripped of its contents and portions of the metal building had been removed.”

A rancher and other witnesses who obtained license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles eventually enabled Tuolumne County Sheriff’s detectives to crack the case and document repeated sales of the stolen metal in Stockton.

[Full story]

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