Police: Man electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire at Merillat plant

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A 48-year-old Los Lunas man was airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital after police said he electrocuted himself last week while trying to steal copper wire from a vacant commercial building.

Police said the man, Dennis Vega, got electrocuted while he was trying to take wire from the Merillat Cabinet Factory, 1300 Desert Willow Road in Los Lunas. The factory has been closed for a year.

Police said Vega walked to the Los Lunas Walmart after the incident about 9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 11, and was waiting in the front doorway of the store. A large portion of Vega's skin was black and peeling from his head to his waist. He was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital.

Vega is charged with commercial burglary, criminal damage to property and possession of burglary tools.

"As the cost of copper rises, so do the risks thieves are taking to get their hands on it," said Los Lunas Police Chief Roy Melnick. "It is unfortunate that Mr. Vega had to sustain such a serious injury to keep him from unlawfully removing the copper wire.

"Nevertheless, the damage Mr. Vega caused to himself and the building is far more costly than the amount he would've received by selling the wire."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.