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Arrest Made in Copper Thefts

On September 2, 2014 at 8:48 am, Redding Police patrol officers saw a suspicious, unoccupied vehicle parked behind Joann Fabric and Craft Store (1175 Dana Drive). Upon running a check on the vehicle’s license plate number, they discovered the license plates on the vehicle were not issued to the type of vehicle they were looking at. Thinking the vehicle could possibly be stolen, they watched it at a distance until a man carrying a large bag got into the driver’s seat. Upon stopping the man, officers identified the driver as Phillip Royce Hampsten, age 38, of Shasta Lake. Hampsten said he borrowed the car for the day, which was later determined to be true.

While they were investigating the ownership status of the car, the officers saw a rope hanging from the side of the Joann Fabric building. They discovered the large bag Hampsten was carrying was filled with copper tubing, along with various types of pipe cutting tools. A search of the roof revealed the below pictured grappling hook was attached to a horizontal pipe on the roof. Over 360 feet of copper tubing that had been part of the building’s air conditioning system was found to be missing.

Officers searched a motel room where Hampsten had been staying. They found an additional grappling hook, along with copper wire of various types, inside the room.

Hampsten was arrested for grand theft, felony vandalism, possession of stolen property, a violation of the terms of his probation, and possession of burglary tools. He was transported to Redding Police Investigations.

Investigators questioned Hampsten regarding various unsolved thefts of copper wire and copper tubing. At the conclusion of this investigation, Hampsten was also charged with an additional count of felony vandalism for a theft of copper tubing from the roof of the Shasta County District Attorney’s office that was reported on July 15, 2014. During the interview, Hampsten said he was a former electrician, and he was therefore familiar with air conditioning systems and related copper pipes.

No formal estimate of damage is available at the time of this report, but these types of thefts typically involve thousands of dollars in loss for materials and labor.

Hampsten was booked at the Shasta County Jail. His bail will be set at $25,000.

– Press Release