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San Bernardino copper thief dies from electrocution witnessed by horrified neighbors

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A would-be copper thief died horribly over the weekend after he attempted to steal copper wire from an electrical relay station in San Bernardino, authorities said.

The L.A. Times reports that Michael Morga Garcia, 26, died Sunday evening of injuries resulting from electrocution after he apparently tried to strip copper wire from a Southern California Edison electrical relay station located on Stoddard Avenue near Rialto Avenue.

Garcia was electrocuted at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning, authorities said, and CBS reports that the shock was so severe he caught on fire. Neighbors nearby say they heard a boom and Garcia screaming, and attempted to help him as he burned. He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he died a little after 8:30 p.m. yesterday.

The San Bernardino Sun reports that Garcia received a 33,000-volt shock, and that the incident knocked out power to 14,000 SCE customers nearby.

Wire cutters and other tools were reportedly found nearby, leading investigators to believe that Garcia was trying to steal copper.

Copper thefts are increasingly common -- and often go badly for the thieves. Last month another would-be copper thief, also a 26-year-old San Bernardino resident, killed himself while trying to strip copper from a high-voltage cable in Fontana.

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