Anne Arundel County alleged copper thieves arrested

Pictured from top left to right: Tomlinson, Nichols, Howell, and Spenard. Photo: Anne Arundel County Police

ODENTON, Md. (WJLA) - An overnight heist left thousands of people in the dark.

Anne Arundel County police say four suspects made off with copper wire from a Baltimore Gas and Electric power line, causing a major outage.

When the copper line fell, it took out a major power carrier, knocking out power throughout the neighborhood.{ }

The lights at Kris-Leigh Assisted Living went out before midnight.{ }An employee who rushed across the yard to check on vulnerable residents noticed the suspects.{ }

“Two gentlemen running through the yard, through the grassy area, up the driveway where a car picked them up,” says Lisa Sessams. “They had cables in their hands.”{ }

Police identified the two men as Jason Tomlinson, 29, and Michael Spenard, 24.

“We called the police because there is no reason for people to be running through our yard,” Sessams says.

The call included a description of the getaway car, which was missing a headlight.

Police found four suspects inside the vehicle: Tomlinson, Spenard, Jim Nichols, 32,{ }and Melissa Howell, 27,{ }along with extension clippers and freshly-cut copper wire.

While copper wire theft is becoming more common, the dangers of{ }the crime persist.{ }Investigators believe one of the suspects likely has a connection to someone who works on power lines.

“I believe it was a family member that may have had some knowledge of this,” says Detective Matt Snyder.

The electricity was back on by 1 a.m.{ }Sessams is glad none of her residents suffered from the loss of power.

“I have people on oxygen,” she says. “It’s not fair for them to do that.”

All four suspects were charged wtih theft under $1,000 and malicious destruction of property. Tomblinson was also charged wtih identify theft and giving a false statement to an officer. He was also served on an open warrant for violation of probation. Nichols, who police say was driving, was also charged with driving on a suspended license.