Drag marks in Burney snow lead deputies to stolen copper wire

BURNEY — Two men were arrested Sunday afternoon,  Dec 1, after deputies investigating a commercial burglary and theft of copper wire followed drag marks left in the day’s heavy snow to a Johnson Park residence. The home is more than four miles from where about 500 pounds of copper had been stolen, according to officials.

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Deputies from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Burney Division responded to the area of Black Ranch and Vedder roads around 2 p.m., after concerned citizens called 911 to report seeing a silver Dodge Ram dragging a long length of copper cable, Shasta County Sheriff’s Sgt. Marc St.Clair reported after the incident and arrests.

The 911 callers told SHASCOM emergency dispatchers that two men in the pickup truck appeared to be attempting to strip the protective coating from the large-gauge wire, according to St.Clair; who said the men were last seen driving on Black Ranch Road toward nearby Highway 299E.

Robert Dale Cox Jr., and Robert Paul Milner, both 50, were arrested Sunday after deputies investigating a commercial burglary of copper wire followed drag marks left in the snow to where the men had hidden about 500 pounds of stolen copper wire.

Deputies converged on the area within minutes and began searching for the silver Dodge. They were soon located drag marks in the snow leading to Covanta, which was once an operational energy plant and has since shut down, according to St.Clair.

Deputies discovered the energy plant had been burglarized and found wire that had been tampered with. Deputies also found drag marks in the snow that led in the direction the pair was last seen heading while dragging the long length of wire.

Deputies’ continued to follow the drag marks left in the snow which led them to a residence located at the 38000 block of State Route 299E in Johnson Park, where they found the silver Dodge, according to St.Clair.

“The truck still had wire attached to the chassis of the vehicle,” the Sgt. described.

Once at the home deputies detained two men, later identified as 50-year-old, Robert Dale Cox Jr., and Robert Paul Milner, also 50. Deputies then discovered both alleged suspects had a variety of felony and misdemeanor warrants for their arrest.

Although neither Cox nor Milner were cooperative with deputies, as the investigation continued officials discovered approximately 500 pounds of copper wire hidden inside the garage of the residence, according to St.Clair.

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Based on their investigation deputies arrested both men, who were charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and grand theft.

Anyone with information about this investigation is encouraged to contact Shasta County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 245-6540. Callers can refer to incident file number 19S043892 and can remain anonymous.


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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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