Hammond Police: More Charges Expected in Copper Thefts

Hammond Police say that it is not likely that copper theft suspects acted alone and the investigation continues

Josseann M. Echavarria, age 30 of Hammond. Photo provided
Josseann M. Echavarria, age 30 of Hammond. Photo provided
Diquan Ray, age 23, of Burnham, IL. Photo provided
Diquan Ray, age 23, of Burnham, IL. Photo provided

All criminal suspects are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.  A criminal chare is not evidence of guilt.

September 30, 2018-Hammond Police say charges have been filed after a months long rash of copper wire thefts.  Mayor McDermott spoke about the thefts on his radio show on WJOB AM1230 on Friday, stating that the thefts cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars while netting the criminals a very small fraction of that amount.  According to a statement from Hammond Police Lt. Steven Kellogg, “On September 29th at approximately 1:55 a.m., the suspects, who have been under surveillance, were observed coming out of the Cook County Forest preserve in Calumet City. Hammond police conducted a traffic stop in Hammond and recovered a large amount of copper wire within the vehicle.”  Diquan N. Ray, age 23 from Burnham, IL and Jossean M. Echevarria age 30 from Hammond have been arrested at that time and remain in custody.  “”These two males are the primary suspects in these crimes, however, additional suspects may be identified and charged as the investigation continues” Lt. Kellogg stated.

Police did not say whether these suspects are believed to have committed three wire thefts from Hammond Schools.  Over the course of the past three months copper wires were taken from the lights at Gavit, Clark and Hammond High football fields.  The school board has been silent on the issue and, in fact, misled the public as to the reason for cancelling games at Hammond High school.  In those incidents, the suspects were believed to have displayed insider knowledge of the grounds being able to avoid cameras and school employees according to a source.  For example, at Clark High School copper wire was stolen from one side of the football field which may have allowed the suspects to avoid a clear camera image.

Jossean M. Echavarria and Diquan Ray have been charged with Level 6 Felony Theft. Federal charges are anticipated as the investigation continues.



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