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Copper Wire Theft Sting In Tulare County

A couple dozen people are behind bars, accused of stealing copper wire off ag land in Tulare County, and five businesses have been busted, investigators say, for buying the stolen wire.

Tulare County officers focused in on the area from Avenue 96 to Avenue 200 and Road 192 to the Kings County line.

Their helicopter was in the air every night, watching activity over this ag land. Officers went undercover, stopped suspicious cars and checked on local recycling businesses.

Investigators arrested more than two dozen people in connection with copper wire theft and drugs. Six recycling business owners and employees were taken into custody for illegal business transactions relating to the stolen copper wire.

"Those that are buying this property that they suspect might be stolen or they're not allowed to purchase, we're going to do our best to shut them down," Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman said. "Somebody's buying this property. Somebody's buying this copper wire and these metals. It's an epidemic. It's nationwide. It's impacting us mainly through our farmers and ranchers."

Sheriff Wittman says it's not the petty theft of the wire alone, but the damage done to farmers' pumps when thieves steal the wire that wreaks havoc to South Valley farmland.

Here's the list of businesses the Tulare County Sheriff's Department busted in connection with illegal deals related to stolen copper wire:

- Cosecha Recycling in Porterville- Ag Recycling in Porterville- Gutierrez Recycling in Porterville- Lucas Recycling in Pixley- Jay's Recycling in Pixley

Anyone with information about agricultural crimes happening in Tulare County is asked to call the sheriff's department at (559) 725-4194.

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