SAN JOSE -- Seven people were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of either buying or selling several thousand pounds of stolen copper wire during the past few months, police said.
The identities of those arrested were not released, but San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Albert Morales said all arrests took place at either San Jose Metals Recycling Center, on North 10th Street, Elite Recycling Services, on Tully Road, or Patricia's Salon, on Southside Drive.
In addition to the stolen copper wire that was seized during the arrests, officers also found a large amount of cash, a loaded handgun and a small amount of methamphetamine. Morales said officers did not know how far-reaching the theft operation was. The value of the recovered copper was also not available.
"Copper theft is something that has been a problem for quite some time," he said. "It's becoming out of control. It's starting to affect schools, where kids can't turn on lights or their computers. It's affecting traffic signals and street lighting. It sets everyone back."
All seven people who were taken into custody were arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen copper wire, purchasing copper wire without identification and paying for recycled material without the state-required three-day waiting period for paying for scrap metal purchases.
The Santa Clara County Special Enforcement Team, the Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol, Cal Recycle, the Department of Weights and Measures, San Jose's Code Enforcement Unit and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office also helped with the arrests.
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