Man accused of stealing tools during Blue Cut Fire evacuations

Deputies said 44-year-old John Coppini is still being sought for theft

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A man accused of stealing tools from evacuees during the Blue Cut Fire was apparently interviewed on TV, posing as a caretaker of the victim's burnt-down property during a news report.

Authorities said 44-year-old John Coppini of San Bernardino is accused of stealing tools valued at about $30,000, and the victims were able to identify the suspect after they allegedly saw him being interviewed in front of their home in a report on 9 News Los Angeles.

Authorities said the victims were ordered to evacuate their home in the 6000 block of Ocotillo Street on August 17 due to the growing brush fire. After leaving their home, they saw the TV interview with Coppini as he claimed to manage their property; this as they were already dealing with the shock of their home being destroyed by the fire.

When the couple returned to their home, they discovered their truck and several tools were missing. Their truck was recovered; however, their tools are still missing.

The stolen tools are valued at approximately $30,000 and are critical to the success of the victim's diesel mechanic repair business, according to a release from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department. 

The tools are described as a trig welder, hydraulic punch, cable saw, hydraulic hose crimper, roto hammer, band saw, hydraulic hole punch, right angle drill and thousands of metric and sae sockets and wrenches.   

Anyone with information about the theft investigation or the suspect is urged to contact Detective K. Marshall of the Central Station at (909) 387-3545.

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