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Police investigating suspect believed to be part of group specializing in copper thefts

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-19 22:59:27-05

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah - Investigators say that with the public’s help, they believe they’ve identified one of the men responsible for a string of copper thefts throughout Garfield County.

County Sheriff James Perkins said several businesses have been hit over the past year, with the damage totaling more than $30,000. The thieves have moved quick and worn masks in each of the thefts--leaving police with little to go on. But Saturday, detectives got a break in the case when one man broke into Ruby’s Inn unmasked.

“Definitely caught him off guard,” said Ruby’s Inn health and safety manager Ron Harris. “We’ve got the video where the person, you can see him walking into this one room, which is our woodworking shop.”

Harris said newly installed cameras caught a clear picture of one of the suspects. They believe it’s the same group that has stolen copper, tools and equipment from the hotel before.

“Construction sites and other businesses have had things come up missing,” Harris said. “We just haven’t been able to catch them.”

But Sheriff Perkins said tips lead them to believe they’ve identified the man in the video, and they think he may be part something bigger.

“We think this individual is working with other individuals who specialize in copper thefts, who have been responsible for copper thefts in our area and other areas of Southern Utah," he said.

Perkins said detectives are following up on leads and hope to make an arrest soon. Harris said that would be a relief, as the ongoing thefts have left some in the community on edge.

“Knowing that it’s going on,” Harris said. “That we’re not safe, excluded from that here clear out in Bryce Canyon.”

Perkins said he’s grateful for the community’s response to their plea for tips. A business had put up a reward for information leading to an arrest.