A convicted copper thief who posed as an electrician at a north Phoenix commercial property failed to appear in court Tuesday for his verdict and is now a fugitive, prosecutors said.
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Mike Anthony Scerbo said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Leon Bartlette Aguayo, who caused about $50,000 in damage at the property at 13450 N. Black Canyon Highway.
A jury convicted Aguayo, 36, of third-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools for the Dec. 16 theft of an estimated $500 worth of copper. Scerbo said Aguayo gained access to the roof of the property by posing as an electrician. He was arrested at the scene by a Phoenix police surveillance team.
Aguayo faces a maximum sentence of 7½ years for his two convictions.
“The crime of copper theft is growing and is having a devastating effect on Valley businesses,” said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. “Hospitals and medical facilities, construction sites and agricultural properties have been particularly hard hit. We will aggressively prosecute these cases and ask for the public’s assistance in apprehending this fugitive.”
Copper theft is causing millions of dollars in damage around the Valley, Scerbo said.