SAN BERNARDINO – A moment of “fame” for a suspected Blue Cut fire thief helped San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Central Station Deputies identify him. Now the victim’s are asking for the public’s help to located the approximately $30,000 worth of stolen tools that were taken during their mandatory blue cut fire evacuation.
On August 17th as the Blue Cut Fire raged out of control the victims, Michael and Crystal Armstrong were contacted by deputies and ordered to leave their home. The couple complied since the fire was not contained and directly threatening their home, located in the 8600 block of Swarthout Canyon Road.
The Armstrongs watched the news coverage and happened to see a reporter on Channel 9 News interviewing a man standing in front of their burned down home. The suspect, later identified as 44-year-old John Coppini from San Bernardino told the reporter that he was the caretaker of the property.
Much to their dismay, when the Armstrongs returned to their property, they noticed their truck and several tools needed for Mr. Armstrong’s diesel mechanic repair business were gone. The truck was later recovered, but authorities said that the tools remain missing.
These tools, described as a trig welder, hydraulic punch, cable saw, hydraulic hose crimper, roto hammer, band saw, hydraulic hole punch, right angle drill and thousands of metric and SAE sockets and wrenches. These tools are all critical to the success of Mr. Armstrong’s business.
Per inmate records, Coppini was only detained and has not yet been charged with grand theft during a state of Emergency. San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office Spokesman, Christopher Lee said that the case has not been submitted to the District Attorney’s office as of Wednesday afternoon. Coppini was out on bail for an unrelated June 2016 incident, during which time he allegedly committed the theft during the Blue Cut Fire.
Coppini was arrested in the 11200 block of Oakwood Court in the City of Hesperia on the morning of September 1, 2016, for the failure to appear for an arraignment on an unrelated June 2016 case where he was charged with vandalism, attempted burglary, and attempted grand theft. He was arraigned for the June 2016 case on September 6, 2016, and was released from custody early September 7, 2016. He is pleaded not guilty to the three felony counts and is due back in court on September 13, 2016.
.Anyone with information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Detective K. Marshall of the Central Station (909) 387-3545. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip website at www.wetip.com
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