Scrappy thievery

Cops catch alleged copper bandit

An alleged copper thief tied to hundreds of thefts dating back to last year was arrested during a Nov. 16 burglary in north Chico.

Since 2012, Chico Police have received more than 200 reports of copper being stolen from air-conditioning units around Chico, according to a Chico Police Department press release. Shortly before midnight on Nov. 16, an officer responding to an air-conditioning unit’s tamper alarm at 40 Philadelphia Drive found 46-year-old John Timothy McCrary on the scene dressed in all black. Once detained, McCrary was reportedly found to be in possession of burglary tools and methamphetamine.

While the copper obtained from an air-conditioning unit can be sold as scrap for $50 to $200, replacing an air-conditioning unit typically costs $3,000 to $5,000, or up to $25,000 for a commercial unit.

McCrary was tied to 149 air-conditioning-unit thefts and booked into Butte County Jail on charges of grand theft, vandalism, possession of burglary tools and possession of a controlled substance.