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Accused copper thieves caught at site of stash in Hudson

HUDSON — The surveillance camera was tucked away, pointing directly toward some brush in the Briar Oaks subdivision, waiting for someone to show up.

And finally, about 2 a.m. Saturday, two men with flashlights made their way toward the spot where about 3,000 feet of stolen copper wire was stored, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.

The men began tampering with the wire. Deputies responded to the scene in time to arrest one of the men, 37-year-old Cary Zalneraitis. His alleged accomplice, David Wright, 46, fled the scene.

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative notified deputies about a month ago that roughly 7,000 feet of copper wire had been stolen from Briar Oaks. The wire had been installed underground for future homes.

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said authorities found 3,000 feet of copper wire stashed in an isolated area in that subdivision, but decided to leave it there and set up a surveillance camera.

"We figured they would be back," Doll said.

After arresting Zalneraitis and identifying Wright as an accomplice, deputies went to the home of Wright's girlfriend on Tuesday to ask about his whereabouts.

Angela Smith, 32, insisted on recording the interview with deputies, Doll said. She was charged with interception and disclosure of wire oral or electric communication and resisting arrest without violence.

In an interview at the jail, Smith told deputies she picked up Wright on the night of the robbery, and that she sold some of the copper wiring to a recycling company for about $450.

Authorities charged Smith with theft and dealing with stolen property. She remained Wednesday at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $13,550 bail.

Zalneraitis was charged with grand theft and loitering, and his bond has been revoked on previous battery and drug charges. He remained Wednesday at the Land O'Lakes jail without bail.

Authorities are still looking for Wright. Deputies suspect there are more people involved in this copper theft ring.

Anyone with information may call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office tips line at 1-800-706-2488.

Jacqueline Baylon may be reached at (727) 869-6247 or at jbaylon@sptimes.com.

Accused copper thieves caught at site of stash in Hudson 09/28/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:57pm]

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