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Suspect flees, copper recovered

POSTED April 5, 2011 11:01 p.m.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is searching for the man who tried to steal copper wiring from a Ballico farm.

The suspect was able to elude capture, but authorities were able to retrieve 55 feet of spooled copper wire, 26 brass valves and a Kubota all-terrain vehicle, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

The theft was reported just after 5 p.m. Thursday at a ranch in the area of Turlock and Looney roads in Ballico.

The rancher came home and spotted the would-be thief driving away on the Kubota with the copper wire and valves.

Deputies responded to the area and set up a perimeter, using K-9 units and the sheriff’s helicopter. The suspect was not located but deputies recovered the equipment.

The suspect was described as a white male about 30 to 35 years old with a goatee. He was wearing a grey T-shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Roy Tighe at 385-7472.

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