Thursday, February 23, 2012

Modesto Airport: Man Charged With Conspiracy to Steal Federal Property

(Press Release) U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that 22-year-old Kody Estepp of Modesto, made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on charges of conspiring to steal federal property from the Modesto Airport.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week, Estepp and his co-conspirators broke into lighting towers around the Modesto Airport on several occasions in January 2012. After breaking into the lighting towers, they stole copper wire from the enclosed lighting systems, causing three of the four Medium Intensity Approach Lighting Systems of the Modesto Airport to malfunction. The stolen copper wire is owned by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Copper wire theft is a problem of epidemic proportions in Modesto, California,” said Modesto Police Department Sergeant Aaron Tait, Supervisor of the Crime Reduction Unit. “It is more than a nuisance as it can endanger critical infrastructure and public safety. Combating copper wire theft is a priority of the Modesto Police Department. We are working in collaboration with state and federal agencies to arrest and prosecute those who steal copper wire.”

This case is the result of an investigation by the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General and the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn is prosecuting the case.

If convicted of the charges, Estepp faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Anyone with information about recent copper wire thefts can call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site,, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus your message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.


— Be watchful and report any suspicious activity.

— Most thefts occur on street lights overnight.

— Thieves usually break into the street light poles and cut the copper wires before leaving.

— Thieves will return later and pull the copper wire from the poles.

— A sudden outage on a street light could be a sign that the wires have been cut and will be pulled.

— Report to police anyone who appears to be working on a street light and does not have a City of Modesto or a Modesto Irrigation District uniform.

Source: Modesto Police Department

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