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Man arrested in local manhole cover theft

BARSTOW • Deputies arrested a 38-year-old man on Friday for allegedly stealing a 200-pound manhole cover.

According to San Bernardino County Sheriff Sgt. Joe Braaten, a witness reported seeing a man stealing a manhole cover on the 2500 block of West Main Street in Barstow on Friday morning.

A deputy who was investigating a different scrap metal theft case was at a recycling facility on Lenwood Road and West Main Street when he saw a car matching the witness’s description pull up, said Braaten. The deputy then looked in the car’s trunk and found the missing manhole cover.

Ralph Baca, 38, was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property worth $400 or more at the recycling facility at 12:30 p.m. Baca was cited and released.

Braaten said it can be difficult to catch scrap metal thieves because they often hide stolen items under other metal and employees don’t always inspect every item.

Braaten said the cover weighed around 200 pounds and covered a 20-foot-high drop into a sewer. The cover was replaced after it was recovered at the recycling facility.

An employee at a recycling facility in Victorville said 200 pounds worth of steel would be worth about $22. The cost to replace a typical sewer manhole is about $400, said Troy Minnich, who is in charge of industrial pretreatment with the City of Barstow.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or kjonas@desertdispatch.com


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