Police say Jeffery Robinson and Geoffrey Guess were the two men behind the heist. They say the thieves broke into this pump station around one o'clock Wednesday morning.
"They took that off which exposed the wires, then they'll just grab on to these wires and start pulling," said Ken Heard with the Fresno Water Division.
Video from a CHP helicopter shows the two crooks at work. They attempted to steal around 350 feet of wire valued at $4,000 dollars.
"They were actually seen tossing copper wire over a fence where they jumped and ran into a mobile home park where they were later taken into custody," said Sergeant Mark Hudson from Fresno Police Department.
Copper wire has become a hot commodity at pump stations, some have been hit over and over.
"Over the last week, about 22 to 23 times," said Martin Querin from the Fresno Department of Public Utilities.
The city says the theft is a health and safety risk because the pumps provide water to surrounding areas if there's an emergency.
"If it was the summer, you know we have high demand and then all of a sudden you have a fire, we might not be able to meet the demand we have for the fire department to fight those fires," said Querin.
Another mystery for investigators is it appears the crooks behing the break in had keys to the facility.
"We have no idea how they acquired that key. We would be very interested in how they got that," said Heard.
Copper theft also causing trouble for local drivers.
Caltrans has had to deal with thieves stealing their ramp metering lights that control the flow of traffic.
During the day we don't really see them, but it's at night when everything turns dark that we really see the real impacts of this," said Jose Camarena with Caltrans.
The two men are being charged with grand theft, felony vandalism and for possessing burglary tools.