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Three daytime prowlers spotted on fire department roof, one caught

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Three burglars believed to be seeking to steal copper wire, were spotted Friday afternoon atop the downtown Modesto Fire Station while fire fighters were training on an aerial ladder of a fire truck, according to The Modesto Bee on April 12. One of the subjects was apprehended after being cut on one of the chain link fences near the ladder he had just descended from the roof of the building.

Two of the other subjects got away, a man and a woman. The woman fell off the ladder and the other man grabbed her before they both quickly ran away. The man who was apprehended by Modesto Police was identified as Brandon Bayse, 21. Bayse was arrested on charges of trespassing. Bayse was found with materials used by taggers when he was arrested. His accomplices still remain at large.

It is believed that the burglars were after the scrap metal behind the chain link fence and the copper wire on the roof of the building. Copper wire theft is a major problem in Modesto. It has led to the closure of at least one park in Modesto and to computer system shutdowns and a whole host of other problems.

In 2012, Robert Neal Vanderheiden, 32, was sentenced to prison for damaging the approach lighting system at the Modesto Airport. Vanderheiden had to pay $60,000 to the Federal Aviation Administration for the damage he caused.

In 2011, copper wire thieves did so much damage to the Beard Brook Park that the park had to be closed for repairs! They cut copper wire to fences, thrashed toilet flush valves, damaged drinking fountains and dug up electrical boxes, all in an effort to attain copper wire.

The Modesto Fire Department was founded in 1875 as the Modesto Hook and Ladder Company. It was a volunteer unit and was manned by the most prominent men in the city, including judges, lawyers, mechanics, merchants and even clergymen.