From staff reports
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Two Webb City men have been charged with stealing a large amount of copper tubing from 48 train engines that were parked in Webb City and Carterville.
Don Melton, Webb City assistant police chief, said that shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, Webb City officers stopped a white Plymouth van for speeding on Hall Street near Enterprise Avenue.
During the course of the stop, a passenger, Paul O. Sanchez Pena, 19, was arrested on three outstanding warrants for a variety of traffic offenses.
The driver, Francisco A. Gallegos, 20, gave consent to search the vehicle.
Inside, officers reportedly found a large amount of copper tubing that they concluded came from 11 Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad train engines that were parked in Webb City and 37 train engines that were parked in Carterville.
Railroad officials estimated the loss at more than $240,000 in theft and damage to the train engines, according to police.
Pena and Gallegos have been charged with felony theft. Each was being held on $10,000 bond.
Tommy Gipson, vice president of transportation for MNA, said that since the matter is under investigation by the Webb City Police Department, he would not comment. Michael Williams, spokesman for Genesee & Wyoming Inc., parent company of MNA, also declined to comment.
According to a probable-cause statement issued by the Webb City Police Department, Gallegos admitted the he and Pena have been stealing copper and brass over the past two months from MNA locomotives parked in the train yards. He also said they were attempting to sell the material at a Joplin scrap yard, according to the statement.
THE MISSOURI AND NORTHERN ARKANSAS RAILROAD, based in Carthage, operates freight service in Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas. Local branch lines run from Fort Scott, Kan., through Nevada to Clinton; from Joplin to Carthage; and from Webb City to Atlas. MNA is owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc.