SANGER – Detectives with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Ag Task Force (ATF) arrested two Fresno residents in connection with copper wire theft from a solar panel farm last December.
According to a Jan. 4 press release, ATF charged Jerald Ross, 63, with felony grand theft. Ross is suspected of stealing more than $100,000 in copper wire from the farm located at S. Jefferson and E. Chestnut Avenues in Fresno. The farm contains 9,000 panels, which provide the majority of electricity to the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Campus.
AFT also arrested Connie Rincon, 33. ATF said Rincon was Ross’s accomplice in the theft. She was arrested on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and possessing burglary tools.
On Dec. 29, a local recycling center contacted the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office (FSO) regarding a suspicious transaction involving a large amount of copper wire. When FSO arrived at the center, they determined the wire had been stolen.
FSO identified Ross as the individual attempting to sell the wire. In a slight twist to the case, detectives determined that the wire in Ross’s possession was not stolen from the solar panel farm. But evidence gathered during the investigation pointed to Ross as the individual who was responsible for stripping wire from the panels at the farm, which resulted in damages to the farm that may total up to $2.8 million. Ross is suspected of stripping hundreds of pounds of write from the panels; that wire has not been recovered.
The press release did not say where Ross obtained the copper wire he attempted to sell at the recycling center.
Ross was booked into the Fresno County Jail. His bail was set at $92,500. He has a Jan. 10 court date.
Anyone with information relating to the case is asked to contact FSO at 559-600-3111 or Crime Stoppers at 559-498-7867 or online at www.valleycrimestoppers.org. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.