Former county building targeted by alleged copper thieves in Harlingen

Javier Vasquez Mugshot

An accused pair of copper thieves is behind bars in Harlingen after they allegedly tried to steal copper tubing from a former Cameron County building in broad daylight.

Harlingen police arrested Guadalupe Machuca Delgado and Javier Vasquez under state jail felony theft of wire cable or copper charges.

Investigators told Action 4 News that officers were called to the former Cameron County Building at 608 East Harrison Avenue at 4:54 p.m. Wednesday.

Officers reported that 66-year-old Delgado and 43-year-old Vasquez had removed copper tubing from an air conditioning unit without authorization.

Police said Delgado and Vasquez attempted to flee the scene but were caught in an alley on the 500 block of East Harrison Avenue.

Investigators believe the stolen copper may have been worth about $400 dollars when sold as scrap metal.

Both Delgado and Vasquez appeared before Harlingen Municipal Judge Rudy Mares where they each received $5,000 dollars in bonds.

Texas officials recently enacted stricter laws that require the use of IDs to sell scrap metal based on an increase in thefts statewide.

Harlingen Police Sgt. John told Action 4 News that a recent rise in the price of copper is driving the thefts.

"Vacant houses and vacant buildings are often targets," Parrish said.

Cameron County used to have the offices for several deaprtments at 608 East Harrison Avenue but moved to a new location off Wilson Road about three years.

The building has been vacant since but according to real estate listings, remains for sale for $470,000 dollars.

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