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Hinkley man helps deputies chase down suspected metal thieves

HINKLEY — A Hinkley rancher helped deputies chase down two men suspected of stealing scrap metal from Bureau of Land Management property.

Deputies arrested Ed Jordan, 52, and Peter Pizzo, 42, both of Barstow, on suspicion of possession of stolen property Tuesday afternoon, after a concerned citizen chased the men in his truck from Hinkley to Lenwood. Jordan and Pizzo had about 80 steel fence posts in their truck, said Deputy Jacob Gault with the Barstow sheriff’s station.

Jay Moon, 41, who lives near the BLM land in the Harper Dry Lake area, saw two men with a truck taking steel fence posts from the BLM land at about 3 p.m. and called to report it, Gault said. When the men attempted to flee, Moon chased them in his own truck, remaining on the phone with dispatchers the whole time.

Pizzo jumped out of the truck in Hinkley and fled on foot, while Jordan continued driving. Deputies later found Pizzo in the area of Mountain View Road and Community Bouldevard, Gault said.

The 20-minute car chase ended in Lenwood, where Jordan left the truck by the railroad tracks and fled on foot. Deputies found him hiding in an outbuilding in a backyard near the tracks, Gault said. A county helicopter assisted in the search.

The chief ranger from the BLM’s Barstow field office identified the fence posts as BLM property, Gault said.

Anthony Chavez, range land management specialist for the Barstow BLM office, said in the past several months a number of steel fence posts and four cattle guards — metal grids set on the ground to keep cattle out of the road — had been stolen from the area, with the replacement cost approaching $30,000. But scrapping is nothing new on public lands. Thieves have targetted everything from brass parts on fire hydrants to the solar voltaic systems that power well pumps, he said.

“We’ve got scrapping going on all over the place,” Chavez said. “It’s an epidemic in the desert... I don’t know of any place immune to it, that’s for sure.”

He said it was a relief to see at least two suspects in custody and called Moon “instrumental” in making the arrests happen.

To report any information regarding thefts on public lands, call the Barstow sheriff’s station at 760-256-4838. To remain anonymous, call WE-TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME or leave information on the WeTip Web site at www.wetip.com.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or abby_sewell@link.freedom.com


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