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New train 'robbers' cut brakes

(The following story by Larry Hendricks appeared on the Arizona Daily Sun website on March 30, 2010.)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Two Mexican nationals have been arrested in recent days in connection with two burglaries on BNSF trains in the northern Arizona area Friday morning.

The first burglary was reported near Williams, said Lena Kent, spokesperson for BNSF. Apparently undocumented aliens from Southern California cut the brake hoses on a train near Williams to disable it in order to offload a shipment of televisions, but were caught in the act.

Coconino County Sheriff's Office deputies spotted a sport-utility vehicle near the scene where the televisions were offloaded and a short pursuit ensued, Kent said. The vehicle suddenly stopped and several people scattered into the forest.

One person, the driver, was arrested at the scene after he was found hiding in a culvert.

The second burglary was reported near the Winona area east of Flagstaff. Again, brake hoses were cut on a BNSF train to cause the train to engage emergency braking and stop. This time, the burglars unloaded computer equipment from one of the cars.

Lt. Ken Koch of the Flagstaff Police Department said BNSF police asked the police department to attempt to locate two mini vans in Flagstaff as a result of their investigation into several train burglaries.

Officers conducted surveillance on the Motel 6 on Butler Avenue, and at about 1 a.m. Friday, the two mini vans left the motel and began traveling on Interstate 40 toward Winona.

Officers made traffic stops on the two vans. One of the drivers fled and wasn't located, Koch said. The second driver was arrested and detained for further questioning.

Both vehicles were seized and turned over to BNSF for further investigation, Koch said. The insides of both vehicles had been stripped bare except for the driver seat, which Koch added would make it easier to fill the vans with boxes and other items.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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