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Metal thieves strip wiring from parks
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Metal thieves targeted two Ceres parks last week, stripping copper wiring from light facilities.

City officials said vandals also cut through the automatic metal gate at the entrance of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park on Wednesday, June 18. Vandals also tagged the Howard Stevenson Memorial Grove on the lower terrace of the park along the Tuolumne River. The spray painted graffiti was quickly cleaned up by city and fire department volunteers.

Thieves reportedly broke into park equipment several times between June 12 and June 17, stripping copper wiring out of the conduit of lighting along the soccer fields. Deputy Police Chief Mike Borges said a breaker box was also tampered with. He said the thefts have been taking place either late in the evening or between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

At Independence Park, vandals opened the boxes that supply power to equipment and stripped out three to five feet of wire.

The latest damage could cost taxpayers close to $30,000, said Public Works Director Phil Scott.

Thieves also took wiring from the Railroad Avenue street lighting system.

Scott said the city is adding extra security measures to ward off future theft attempts. The city also contracts with Ontel Security to make random patrols of Ceres parks.