The Merced County Sheriff’s Office arrested five suspects in Winton for allegedly attempting to steal copper from an abandoned building.
On Tuesday, just after 1 p.m., the sheriff’s office got a call about five people trying to steal copper and metal from an abandoned building in the 4000 block of Bert Crane Road in Atwater.
A witness saw the suspects trying to remove miscellaneous metal from the building and confronted them. The suspects said they have permission to be there, but when the witness called the sheriff's office, two of the suspects, Amanda Gaines, 20, and a 14-year-old male drove off in a car.
The other three suspects — Richard Beas, 46, Lupe Yglesias, 42, and a 17-year-old female — ran away. With a description of the vehicle and a license plate provided by a witness, Deputy Joe Lara found the vehicle and took Gaines and the 14-year-old into custody.
While conducting follow-up investigation Wednesday, Sgt. Jason Goins and Deputy John Beaudry responded to the 7000 block of Vine Avenue, and the other three suspects were taken into custody.
During an interview, the suspects said that they were "scrapping" and that the property didn't have a "No Trespassing" sign so they didn't feel they were breaking any laws, according to sheriff’s spokesman Tom MacKenzie.
The property has been the target of thieves several times in the past. Once, the air conditioning unit had the metal removed and there was a large pile of scrap metal that the suspects stacked up ready to be loaded into a vehicle when they were caught, according to MacKenzie.
All five suspects were arrested and booked on charges of attempted grand theft and remain on $20,000 bail and the juveniles without bail.