August 27, 2008

Several Train Thieves Arrested, Another Dies Of Heat Exposure

Mojave National Preserve
National Park News

On August 23rd, a joint effort by Union Pacific police, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service resulted in the arrest of four people for train burglary and a search for a fifth who was later found deceased from apparent heat exposure about five miles from the site of the attempted burglary.

Over $30,000 worth of property was recovered.

Around 2 p.m. that afternoon, rangers McDermott, Spillane and Cooperider were notified of a train burglary in progress near Cima, which is within the park. Union Pacific employees discovered between 10 and 15 people in the act of stealing 31 42-inch-wide televisions from a train. The employees told rangers that they’d fled in many directions into the desert.

Rangers requested a helicopter and assistance from the sheriff’s department and from the UP police. Upon arrival, the police told rangers that they had information that the would-be thieves were armed.

A search was begun, and UP police later in the day intercepted a vehicle driven by a known accomplice, arrested him, then put an undercover team in the vehicle to drive the surrounding roads. The team located and arrested four other suspects in a remote area of the park about four miles from the scene of the burglary. They told officers that another member of their group was sick and that they’d left him under a tree about a mile away in the desert.

McDermott and Cooperider retrieved ALS gear and along with UP officers started looking for him, finding him just after 11 p.m. He was DOA, having likely succumbed to complications from heat exposure (temperatures were over 100 degrees).