A West Sacramento man has been convicted in a wire theft incident that halted train traffic between California and Nebraska.
A Yolo County jury last week found 31-year-old Jason Stark guilty of felony vandalism, felony petty theft with prior convictions and possession of narcotics paraphernalia, according to a District Attorney's Office news release.
Authorities said that on June 25, the Union Pacific Railroad controller in Omaha, Neb., received a signal alert to a problem on the tracks in West Sacramento. The controller immediately dispatched a signalman, who arrived at the location within 20 minutes. The signalman saw Stark shove railroad signal cables that he had cut up into his backpack, then ride off on his bicycle down Sacramento Avenue.
The signalman called West Sacramento police, who intercepted Stark minutes later. Stark was found in possession of the wire cables, a knife to cut them and narcotics paraphernalia.
Although the value of the wire was insignificant, authorities said, the theft resulted in considerable cost to the public and the railroad. When the alarm was sounded regarding a problem on the railroad track, train traffic on the entire rail line from California to Nebraska was halted until the source of the problem that triggered the alarm could be determined.
Stark had previously been convicted of three separate crimes involving theft and, consequently, is subject to enhanced punishments, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Stark is to be sentenced Oct. 18 before Yolo Superior Court Judge Janet Gaard.