The story of one guy’s innovative usage of some smokin’ hot solar panels, and a dumb phone call from prison
A school in Chico, Calif., that had 46 rooftop solar panels valued at nearly $50,000 stolen from its rooftop in February, has now learned how –and why– the heist occured.
An attorney for 32-year-old Christopher Bess, who was identified on surveillance video taken in the area of the school, said that his client stole the solar panels because he needed them to buy drugs. Bess entered into a plea bargain in court on Tuesday, and because he has a prior assault conviction can face up to 7 years in prison for the crime.
But the story gets even more interesting.
Bess was in jail and awaiting sentencing for a felony drug charge, a result of the surveillance footage which allowed police only to arrest him on a drug-transportation charge –but not for the solar heist–, when he made a call from prison to a friend, asking him to “empty out” the solar panels from two rented storage units where they were being hidden. Needless to say, his calls were being covertly monitored and the police were immediately dispatched to the location where 17 of the solar panels turned up along with various other stolen property.
His lawyer said that Bess could have faced a 15 year sentence had he gone to trial and been convicted on all counts.
The storage shed, rented under his girlfriend’s name, also contained stolen bicycles, lawn-care equipment, plus cold-weather gear stolen from a local non-profit group that assists military veterans.
“What was found in the storage shed, his behavior, is indicative of a drug addict going on a run,” the suspect’s lawyer observed.
Bess was ordered held without bail pending next month’s sentencing.