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'Tweekers' Steal Copper Using Government Aid Cell Phones, Santee Mayor Says

Mayor: "This is a perfect example of how such a little return for the thief can do so much damage to the City."

Copper pipes. Patch File Photo
Copper pipes. Patch File Photo
Also read: Mayor Sweeps River Bottom, Finds at Least 15 'Tweaker Tents

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel is fed up with copper thefts and vandalism at city parks, he wrote in an email to Santee Patch, citing a recent incident at Town Center Park that cost the city at least $2,000.

He puts some blame for the problem on cell phones that are given to homeless in order to find a job. He said the phones allow them to team up for metal thefts and use "lookouts" to avoid being caught.

The article "How Cell Phones Throw the Homeless a Lifeline," on Mobiledia.com, outlines how cell phones keep the homeless tied to society:

"The homeless and smartphones seem like an odd combination, but mobile devices are far from being a tool for recreation or a status symbol. They let them to come out of the shadows, drawing attention to their plight and securing valuable services."

Here's the Mayor's message about the thefts and vandalism:

Happy New Year,

We at the City are getting very frustrated at the Copper thefts in Town center Park. 

I believe most of the thefts are done by the "Meth heads" desperately trying to get the next fix. This is a perfect example of how such a little return for the thief can do so much damage to the City.

One of the problems we have is that most of the homeless have cell phones and they work in teams, with the "cutters" being watched over by the lookouts. These people are very difficult for our Sheriffs to catch, because of the darn cell phones.

Oh, California and the Federal Government gives these cell phones to the homeless, supposedly so they can get jobs.

Well we will persevere, as we usually catch the Copper thieves sooner or latter, they aren't THAT smart.

Randy Voepel, Fed up with Tweekers.....2013

Mayor, City of Santee

Also read Santee Crime: $24,000 Cell Phone Burglary; $10,000 in Metal Thefts
Robert Curry January 03, 2014 at 12:16 PM
A NATIONWIDE REQUIREMENT that recycling centers/scrap yards require and copy a government Id by anyone selling scrap, and that they also photograph the scrap, which would be required to be HELD at least 48 hours prior to processing, with payment only by CHECK, would greatly reduce such illegal sales!
Bob B January 03, 2014 at 12:49 PM
Man, we sure are surrounded by crooks, thieves and assorted criminals in every walk of life - I suppose that is why we are considered to be an 'exceptional' country?
Al B January 04, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Update... Eight sheriff's surrounding Cajon park school. Concentrating thier focus on the two main switchgears that were opened inside the property. They appeared to be waiting the suspect(s) out and haven't moved in yet. Typically there is some nice thick copper wire inside those boxes. So hopefully they got one of these guys.
Maggie Acerra January 09, 2014 at 02:10 PM
Blaming homeless cell phone use is just a distraction from the very real problem of increasing crime rates in Santee. Robberies, assaults, vandalism, even murder rates, are on the continuous rise as our Mayor and City Council continue to try and convince Santee residents that they really do live in the "La Jolla" of East County. Whether you agree with a federal Obamaphone program or not, Santee residents must acknowledge that the violent crime rates must be addressed, and that posting electronic signs on Mission Gorge Road that state for us "to lock up our cars and valuables" is not an acceptable solution to this very real and dangerous problem for those of us that live in Santee.
Dennis M Kleinsmith January 24, 2014 at 01:33 PM
I agree with Magie Acerra! Get rid of section 8 housing and the tweekers who live in them and some of the problems goes away.

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