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Benicia Police Department
Wednesday April 27th, 2011 :: 09:41 a.m. PDT


Benicia Police Arrest Copper Thieves at Benicia Middle School

On 04/27/11 at 1:32 am, the Benicia Police Department received an alarm activation at the Benicia Middle School on the 900 block of Southampton Road. As responding officers began checking the school and surrounding area, Benicia Corporal Jeff Harris discovered electrical boxes damaged and one lid removed and the wires cut in the area of the softball field lights. After surrounding the area, Benicia Police Department's K9 team of Officer Jake Heinemeyer and his dog Jazz began a search of the school grounds. Jazz alerted to a landscaped area near the Middle School softball fields. Officers located two subjects hiding in the bushes. Arrested without incident were Fairfield residents James Forrest Bell, 38, and Michael Lloyd Edwards, 26.

A school employee responded and determined that copper wire had been stolen, however officers could not locate the wire. Both suspects admitted to damaging the boxes and cutting some wire in an attempt to steal it, but they had not stolen any of the wire. Both subjects were booked into the Solano County Jail in Fairfield on felony charges of grand theft, vandalism, and conspiracy to commit a felony crime. They were also found in possession of burglar tools to commit the theft and were booked on that misdemeanor charge. The Nissan vehicle the suspects had driven to the area and parked in a nearby apartment complex was located and searched and no copper wire was found.

Edwards initially provided a false name and was booked on that felony count. In addition, he is on felony probation out of Solano County and a probation violation charge was added. Edwards was also wanted on two Solano County warrants - a no bail felony probation violation warrant and a misdemeanor reckless driving warrant with a bail of $5,000.

"This type of theft is on the rise," Benicia Police Lt. Mike Daley said. "We have been fortunate to make arrests in a couple of these cases such as this one. Typically these thefts are being committed by criminals from other cities targeting areas of our city. As usual, our responding officers did an excellent job in sealing off the area to prevent their escape. Officer Heinemeyer and Jazz then did their job and found the two suspects hiding in the bushes."

The school official estimated the theft and damage of the wire at about $1,200 and the damage to the concrete boxes in the $400 range. According to Lt. Daley, "Not only does the theft of copper wire have an impact on the area of the theft, such as the lighting to the softball fields in this case, it is very expensive to replace the wire and fix the damage caused by these types of thieves."

For information on this press release, please contact Lt. Mike Daley at (707)590-4259 or via e-mail. No booking photos of the suspects are available at the time of this release. For specific information on the probation of Edwards, please contact the Solano County Probation Department.

Benicia Police Department
200 East L Street
Benicia, CA 94510

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 707-745-3411

Michael Daley

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