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Copper theft ring cost Henderson business nearly $800K, police say

Henderson police have arrested a man in connection with what authorities said was a sophisticated copper theft ring in the Las Vegas Valley that caused more than $780,000 in losses to a railroad services business in the city.

Matthew Rexroad, 29, was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on Wednesday on charges of theft of scrap metal of $100,000 or more, conspiracy to commit theft and possession of stolen property.

Henderson police said in an arrest report for Rexroad that his arrest stemmed from repeated thefts of copper wiring from Progress Rail, 860 Wigwam Parkway, from January through April.

Police said in January alone, Progress Rail was hit “on at least three separate occasions for copper wire theft” in which thieves broke into the business and stole copper from rail car parts. The business was then victimized again in April.

The amount of wire stolen was initially valued at $122,746, but the business told police recently the cost of replacing the wire, including labor, from the thefts was $786,346.

Progress Rail did not immediately respond to a request for an interview on Monday.

Police said in the arrest report for Rexroad that he also uses the name Matthew Rexford and that he has been arrested more than two dozen times in recent years under the two names in property and drug offenses.

He was arrested in the copper theft case at Progress, police said, after detectives examined surveillance photos from the business along with video from recycling businesses in the Las Vegas Valley where massive amounts of copper believed to be stolen were sold.

Authorities also identified Rexroad as a suspect after interviewing witnesses in the case, police said. In addition, the investigation took them to a home in Las Vegas where detectives believe thieves were using heavy machinery to strip stolen copper wire, according to police.

“The subjects were initially stripping the plastic coating of the wire by hand, but have since upgraded to a mechanical machine that strips it,” police said.

Police said they’ve identified at least four other suspects in the thefts. One, according to Rexroad’s arrest report, sold more than 7,200 pounds of copper at local recycling yards from March 5 to April 19. A second suspect has sold more than 5,600 pounds of copper at recycling businesses in Las Vegas since January.

As of Monday, however, it was not immediately clear if anyone else had been charged in the thefts from Progress Rail.

Henderson police declined to comment, citing an “open investigation.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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