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Copper wire criminal sentenced

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 07/13/2018 10:45 AM

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A common theft in the Southeast branded one man a common criminal in Steinbach court on Thursday.

Michael Renz was sentenced by Judge Cynthia Devine for his role in two instances of copper wire theft in 2017, along with other unrelated fraud and theft charges.

On Dec. 20, 2017, Renz was pulled over by police, while driving a vehicle owned by a relative. Officers’ suspicions were raised when license plates did not match the vehicle Renz was driving. Inside the vehicle, officers found 125 pounds of copper wire.

Renz was released from police custody on Dec. 22.

Less than a week later, on Dec. 28, Steinbach RCMP arrested Renz again for another copper wire theft from an MTS compound. Police later confirmed that Renz had sold off copper to a Winnipeg company on seven different occasions.

"Copper wire thefts in the area have been quite significant," noted crown prosecutor Kristee Logan, who said police observed that while Renz spent over three months in custody there were no more thefts.

"You’re costing them money. That’s passed on to consumers. Everybody suffers," she said.

"Your record is bad. Your offences are bad. You are what we would call a criminal," reprimanded the judge, who shared defence lawyer Alan Hogg’s view that Renz’s actions were fuelled by drug addiction.

"Good luck," Devine told Renz, as she accepted a joint recommendation for a sentence of 180 days in custody, which also took into account two incidents from the summer of 2017; when Renz stole gas from a farm in the RM of Ste Anne and cashed a fraudulent $570 cheque.

He will spend another 15 days in jail to complete the sentence, having received credit for time already served. A two-year supervised probation will follow. He was also issued a standalone restitution order to repay the victims of his cheque cashing scheme.

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