Man arrested for stealing $40 of copper, causing $5,000 in damage, loss
BARSTOW • A man who netted $40 from recycled copper was arrested for allegedly stealing the pipe from a local grocery store, causing $5,000 in damage and food loss, police said Monday.
Gordon Gebhart, 51, was arrested Friday after police connected him to copper theft from the roof and exterior of the Vons Grocery Store in Barstow. Metal was also missing from the roof of the Dollar Tree next door.
The store manager noticed the theft Thursday after the refrigeration system malfunctioned, causing thousands of dollars in food to spoil. Police determined the suspect cut or broke copper pipe from the building’s air conditioning and cooling units on the roof. They also believe Gebhart may have tried to enter the store through the roof.
The next morning store managers reported more copper pipe stolen from the side of the building.
In all, about 65 feet of copper pipe was stolen from the buildings, said Sgt. Andy Espinoza Sr. — a score of about $40 from a recycling center.
Police contacted local recycling centers to be on the lookout for the stolen copper pipe. On Friday, a recycling center reported the suspect sold the metal which matched the stolen metal from Vons.
At about 9:01 p.m. Friday, officers located Gebhart in his room at the Desert Inn Motel at 1100 East Main St., just down the street from the Vons and Dollar Tree.
Gebhart was booked for attempted burglary, felony vandalism and receiving stolen property. He is being held at West Valley Detention Center in lieu of $25,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned today at Barstow Superior Court.
Anyone with information about the burglary is urged to contact Det. Leo Griego at (760) 256-5187 or the Barstow Police Department at (760) 256-2211. Those wishing to report anonymously can contact the WeTip Hotline at (800) 78-CRIME or visit www.WeTip.com.
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