After an extensive investigation 3 people were arrested on 75 charges, including felony burglary, felony theft, criminal mischief, child endangerment, and drug charges.
Since 2012 Deputies and Detectives with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office have investigated a series of copper thefts, burglaries, and criminal mischief crimes occurring at the Trixie Mine in the Tintic Mining District in the southwest corner of Utah County, near Eureka. On October 21, 2013, Deputies were called to the area to investigate another theft of copper wire from the Trixie Mine. Investigators had names of a couple of suspects from a previous report and this time they were able to connect tire tracks and foot prints left at the scene of the crime to a vehicle at the home of the previously identified suspects in Provo. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the property at this home, including the van. During the search items believed to have been taken from the Trixie Mine were found. Also during the course of the search investigators found marijuana, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia. There were also a boy and a girl, ages approximately 8 and 9, in the home at the time of the search warrant.
Operators of the Trixie Mine told Deputies that more than 5000 feet of multiple strand copper wire that is approximately 3 inches thick has been stolen over the past year. The theft of this wire, and resulting damage to power systems within the mine has totaled more than $1,500,000.00 and has resulted in significant delays in the processing of ore at the mine. These delays have caused financial losses in an undetermined amount due to lost production time.
The 3 suspects initially identified are Robert Blake Valdez, age 47, of Provo; Richard James Fernandes, age 50, of Provo; and Faith Allison Fernandes, age 40, of Provo.
On November 26, Deputies arrested Valdez and Richard and Faith Fernandes and booked them into jail. Between these three they were booked on 25 counts of felony burglary, 23 counts of felony theft, 26 counts of Class A Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass in a Mine, 2 counts of possession of burglary tools, methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia possession, and 4 counts of felony child endangerment. All three are currently being held in the Utah County Jail on Cash Only Bail of $25,000.00.
This investigation remains active and it is anticipated that more arrests will be made and more charges may be filed against these, and other, suspects.
Similar thefts of copper wire from other locations are also being investigated by the Utah County Sheriff's Office.
For questions contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff’s Office, (801)404-1912.