DNA test results have yielded a suspect in an attempted copper wire theft at a Southern California Edison substation that caused mass blackouts in the Barstow area in September.

Sheriff's officials named Timmothy Edward Lundin, 27, of Yermo as the suspect Friday.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department crime lab recently returned test results on DNA found on evidence at the scene of the break-in, and deputies served a search warrant at Lundin's home in Yermo Thursday, Deputy Jacob Gault with the Barstow sheriff's station said.

They took a DNA sample from Lundin there, to be sent to the lab for confirmation. If the DNA matches, Lundin faces charges of attempted grand theft and vandalism, according to a sheriff's report.

The damage done in the Sept. 12, 2008, break-in at Edison's power station near H Street caused outages for 6.541 customers in the Barstow area, Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady said at the time. Many remained without power thoughout the afternoon.

According to the sheriff's report, the suspect or suspects got into the facility by cutting a hole in the fence and then cut several wires, causing a fire in one of the electrical transformers at the station.

Gault said copper wire thefts, which were a serious issue in 2008, have decreased since the beginning of 2009, when the nation's economic collapse drove prices down.

"It's fallen off dramatically, because the price of copper and scrap metal has dropped dramatically," he said.

Gault was unsure how long it would be before the crime lab can confirm the DNA match. The initial results took months to return because more serious crimes like homicide take precedence, he said. Still, he called it gratifying to have a suspect in the cold case.

To report information relating to the case, call Deputy Jacob Gault at the Barstow sheriff's station at 760-256-4838. To remain anonymous, call WE-TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or asewell@desertdispatch.com