Following up on reports of a suspected theft at the Bristol Mine, Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies captured two men in their 30’s, red-handed, on suspicion of burglarizing the mine of copper wire and other items.
County Sheriff Kerry Lee said on Jan. 27, the watchman reported the mine had been broken into, locks on the main gate broken, wire taken, poles cut down, electric transformers spilled and copper wire removed, along with some copper wire coiled up and tied, and left behind. He expected the thieves would be returning soon for their stash.
Sgt. Chase Dirks then sent Deputy Evan Schimbeck and the watchman to investigate the mine again about 10 a.m. Jan. 28, and view the damage which had been done.
Arriving at the mine, the watchman said he saw two vehicles parked inside the property he did not recognize. Investigating further, but going unnoticed, Deputy Schimbeck took photographs of items seen inside the vehicles that appeared to be copper wire and rolls and buckets of copper, rocks, “all different kinds of items usually associated the mining operations,” Lee said.
Schimbeck decided to call for backup from the Sheriff’s department and two other deputes were dispatched, while Schimbeck retreated further downhill, out of site of anyone at the mine, but blocking the only road in or out.
Sgt. Dirks said the men knew someone had come to the property, but did not know it was law enforcement. Nonetheless, he said the men unloaded the items that had been in their vehicles, so as not to arouse suspicion.
When the additional deputies arrived, including a police dog, they entered the property, with, and surprised the two men.
The two men offered no resistance when arrested by the deputies. Lee said one of the deputies later reported the two suspects said “when they heard the police dog barking, they decided they did not want to run.”
The men are 31-year old Randolph Schmitz of Hurricane, Utah, and 38-year old John Matthew Byk of Mesquite, Nevada. Both men also had an Arizona driver’s license, and both do have a criminal history, Lee said.
The suspects were taken to the Lincoln County Detention Center, charged with burglary, trespassing, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, and destruction of property to obtain scrap metal.
Bail was set at $30,358 apiece and they were to have a preliminary hearing before Judge Mike Cowley in Meadow Valley Justice Court on Feb. 4.
Lee said his department is currently investigating reports by the Lincoln County Power District of a robbery of copper wire at a substation near the Geyser Ranch.