Photo: Stolen iron
A 41-year old man has been arrested and charged with felony grand theft for his involvement in seven separate theft offenses.
It started about three weeks ago. Several agriculture producers reported T-shaped valves and the cast iron lids to which they were attached missing from the standpipe irrigation systems located on their vineyards and orchards. The reported stolen valves numbered in the thousands.
The brass valves and cast iron lids are made of material one might profit from if taken to a recycling center and that is where detectives began checking for signs of the stolen goods. They were right on the money. From Tulare and Kern County recycle centers, about 700 valves and cast iron lids were recovered. Information about the culprit was also collected.
On April 25th, detectives spotted their suspect, Patricio Esparo Reyes, at a Kern County recycle center they were surveilling. Upon his initial arrest for stealing the valves, Reyes was found to be wanted in an unrelated case and the arrest warrant for that case also fulfilled.
Reyes arrived the at recycle center with a passenger in tow who was also a wanted person. This individual was cited with a court appearance ticket and released. Reyes did not receive the same catch and release treatment. He is currently at the Men’s Correctional Facility in Visalia. The stolen valves were returned to their identified owners.