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Mayor Calls Copper Thefts an 'Arms Race', Former Homeless Addict Adds His Two Cents

From an email to the city: "You are correct in your accusations of the people stealing copper but you are going about it the wrong way. Maybe you should look at the people purchasing the stolen copper?"

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel reacts to a speaker on the homeless issue in Santee at a city council meeting. Credit: Steven Bartholow
Santee Mayor Randy Voepel reacts to a speaker on the homeless issue in Santee at a city council meeting. Credit: Steven Bartholow
The City of Santee asked for resident's help last week to solve a rash of copper wire thefts recently in the Town Center area of town that have cost the city more than $48,000.

Thieves have struck at at least 13 locations in the last month, including Mast Park and Town Center Park.

"This is an arms race! I did two tours in Vietnam and I'm getting attacked here by the Vietcong, stealing my copper, and I don't like it," Santee Mayor Randy Voepel told 10 News.

He said the thieves have moved from taking copper wiring in lights, risking electrocution often times, to copper pipes.

Earlier this month Voepel wrote a message to the community deriding these metal thefts and blaming them on groups of homeless using free cell phones to coordinate the copper theft "attacks."

Dolores Diaz, with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, told 10 News that homelessness isn't a crime, and that authorities should be focusing on the criminal act.

An email suggesting that the authorities focus on the purchasers of stolen metals, namely recycling centers, was sent to the city recently:

"I just saw the report on the news about the copper thefts. I am a former homeless meth addict who lived in the Santee/Lakeside river bed for about 6 years. I now have 5 years sober! You are correct in your accusations of the people stealing copper but you are going about it the wrong way. Maybe you should look at the people purchasing the stolen copper? The recycling companies know who the homeless people are and they know that when a homeless person brings in a substantial amount that it is more often than not stolen and yet they continue to purchase the stolen goods. Hope this helps!"

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santee citizen January 27, 2014 at 08:32 PM
when I sell anything at a recycler I have to show my drivers license. don't the homeless?
Simon's carpet care January 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM
A great idea-work on the ones Buying the cooper--It would probably be easier and in Santee I think there is only two places that buy copper--look at the record who has sold copper in the last month-
Circus Freakshow January 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM
The copper recycle companies are just as dirty as the people stealing the copper. The companies get TOP DOLLAR for the copper so if they have to turn someone away...they lose BIG MONEY. The companies pay the homeless pennies on the dollar. But for the homeless its a lot. Just like Padre Dam water bills...it's a never ending cycle of GREED.
Pam Underwood Castellano January 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM
the mayor is an idoit showboating to get in the public eye do i smell a relection in the air by way love the jacket sure you could not made the mayor patch any bigger not all homeless are tweekers or thiefs and everybody one paycheck away from being homeless
Pam Underwood Castellano February 04, 2014 at 11:32 AM
i was also wondering why the amount of the thieft keeps going higher n higher cant add or dont rember the facts or just dont care

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