2 alleged copper thieves busted for stealing VTA wires

Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies arrested two suspected copper thieves accused of stealing wires from Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail platforms.

On Monday, deputies from the transit patrol division were patrolling near Reamwood Light Rail Station in Sunnyvale following an earlier report of copper theft.

"Our sheriff’s dispatch received a call on Monday a little bit after noon, in the area of Cropley VTA station," said Sheriff’s Capt. Jose Cardoza.


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Cardoza said two suspects had pilfered critical infrastructure from Cropley Station to get the copper wire. A second caller reported the theft of copper wires at Reamwood Station.

"Our deputies responded to the area. They made an enforcement stop and arrested two persons responsible," said Cardoza.

Danielle Mayo, 60, and Frank Pacheco, 55, were arrested and booked into San Jose's Main Jail on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy, and possession of methamphetamine.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been two dozen cases of copper theft resulting in more than $500,000 in damage.

"The cables that are being stolen, they track train movement on our system, which in turn activate gate arms, train switches, and signaling," said Diego Carrillo, the VTA superintendent of Way, Power, and Signals. "It’ll prevent trains from receiving proceed signals."

Copper tubing and wire theft is not new to Bay Area businesses, municipalities, and transit agencies, which have suffered repeated losses.

Thieves sell the stolen precious metal to recycling plants for profit. However, for VTA, such thefts bring their 42-mile light rail system to a halt, affecting nearly 15,000 daily riders.

"You’re gonna be waiting just a little bit longer, just because of the delays," said Carrillo.

VTA has attempted various methods to deter theft, including burying the copper connection points, covering them with rocks, and using grease. However, the crimes persist.

"We’re really urging folks to call in if they see something suspicious," said Cardoza.