Earl Thelander
Earl Thelander of Onawa, Iowa, became the nation’s first innocent copper theft fatality. Thelander died Sept. 1, 2007, after sustaining second- and third-degree burns over 80% of his body in an explosion caused by copper thieves.

Cold Cases Just Waiting to Happen:

The Copper Theft Epidemic

Copper theft is a serious, deadly crime, and a growing epidemic. From Iowa to Ohio and Australia to South Africa, copper thieves risk their own as well as other people’s lives, leaving in their wake paths of destruction and endless possibilities for more senseless deaths.

Legislation is critical — in every state. I offer the highest praise to states whose legislative bodies have not only passed tough laws in attempts to crack down on illegal scrap metal sales, but to states who’ve gone above and beyond standard legislation to expand the scope of these laws from copper to even more nonferrous metals. See where your state stands.

The articles below are a small sampling of how copper theft has impacted U.S. states and other countries. They are listed by National, followed by U.S. States, Federal, and International.

Copper thieves don’t steal just copper. They steal lives.

 

National

National Conference of State Legislatures — State Copper and Scrap Metal Theft Statutes

COPPER THEFT DEATHS

(INNOCENT) VICTIMS

 


COPPER THIEVES KILLED

While Allegedly Committing Crime
  • Jose Ortiz, 48 – Waterbury, CT — Sept. 21, 2014
  • Unidentified Male, name and age pending – Manzini, Swaziland, Africa — Sept. 20, 2012
  • Bill Mwape – Zambia, Africa — Dec. 11, 2011
  • Gary Hamby, 46 – Chambers County, AL — Sept. 2011
  • Cody Holland, 18 – Drumright, Okla. — May 26, 2011
  • Gary Lawton, 46 – Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, UK — April 2011
  • Shad Mills, 40 – Lindsay, Okla. — Feb. 25, 2011
  • Richard Birt, 47 – Springettsbury Township, PA — July 2008
  • James Wynn, 24 – Orlando, Fla. — June 11, 2008


LINKS OF INTEREST

 

Copper theft: a worldwide, and sometimes lethal, epidemic
March 29, 2013 | Econowatch
What killed Thelma Morrow?
At first glance, the answer seems obvious and not all that unusual. On the night of September 7, 2011, a car struck the 52-year old Miami woman as she crossed the road. It’s tragic, but pedestrian-car accidents happen all the time.

Yet something about Morrow’s death was different, and it had nothing to do with Morrow, the driver, or weather conditions. As a local news outlet reported at the time, “A 30-block stretch of road was unlit because copper wiring had been stolen from the street lights, rendering them inoperable.”

Crime Stoppers USA launches Copper Theft Program
March 15, 2011

Radio Is More Prepared This TimeJune 22, 2010
Broadcast tower sites are like gold to copper thieves. Particularly attractive are AM transmission facilities that often feature extensive copper grounding systems.

U.S. News & World Report: Price Hikes Lead to Rash of Metal Thefts — Thieves target copper, aluminum, and bronze—even if it’s bolted down
By Emma Schwartz
Posted March 27, 2008
In Columbus, Ohio, Reeb-Hosack Community Baptist Church has paid $15,000 to replace two stolen air conditioners. In Lake Worth, Fla., in January, $18,750 worth of bronze and brass pots disappeared from the graves of a local cemetery. And in the Central Valley of California, pilfered metal from irrigation equipment cost farmers millions of dollars last year alone.

Red Gold Rush: The Copper Theft Epidemic
Copper has never been more valuable, or more stolen. Inside the metal theft epidemic and CSOs’ struggle to contain the problem.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: FBIReport Indicates Copper Thefts Still Threaten U.S. Critical Infrastructure

Alabama

Suspected Copper thief gets electrocuted during crime
September 26, 2011
Chambers County, AL — A man trying to steal copper wiring from a power pole using a tree stand gets electrocuted in Chambers County. According to the Chambers County Sheriff, 46-year-old Gary Hamby was attempting to climb a utility pole using a deer stand Friday afternoon.

Larry Willcutt

Larry Willcutt

Man faces murder charge in April gas well death
September 10, 2011
Jimmy Handley was killed in April when he became trapped between the arms of a gas well pump. Police said that Handley and Larry Willcutt Jr. were stealing copper from the gas well sites. Five months later, Willcutt is being charged with murder in Handley’s death.

National Center for Biotechnology Information
Death during theft from electric utilities
A retrospective study of all individuals examined by the Jefferson County Coroner Medical Examiner Office from January 1981 through December 2001 found that 8 individuals died trying to steal from a power utility. All decedents were men, with an average age of 33 years. Seven of the decedents were stealing copper when killed.

“It’s easier to catch someone committing wiretapping than wire-ripping.”
~ Julie Delcour, Tulsa World, Okla.

ALFA Insurance Offering Reward for Information on Copper Theft
April 30, 2008
Alfa Insurance is putting $10,000 on the table for information that will lead to the conviction of the people responcible for stealing copper from poultry houses and farm irrigation systems in the state.

Alaska

Man Arrested in Copper Theft in Stolen Car
February 9, 2010
Anchorage — On 1-8-10 Anchorage Police officers responded to the report of a subject selling suspicious copper to a metals recycling firm. The suspect, Charles Quales III, a 49 year old Anchorage resident, was stopped not far from the recycling center, driving a red 1999 Ford Expedition. During the course of the investigation, officers discovered that the metal Quales was attempting to recycle had been stolen in a burglary from a Providence Hospital worksite. The red Ford had also been stolen.

Arizona

18 indicted in massive Ariz. copper theft identified
May 5, 2013 | KSAZ
PHOENIX (AP) – Attorney General Tom Horne says 18 people have been indicted in a multi-million dollar copper theft ring at an Arizona mine that he says relied on inside help.

The attorney general’s office says the case began after the September traffic stop of a truck carrying nearly $180,000 of raw copper stolen from the Asarco mine in Hayden.

The Department of Public Safety says two Asarco, LLC employees, Rene Joe Arbizo and Gene Carlo Garcia, were involved in the theft of nearly $10 million of the metal. Defendants who had been working at the mine have been fired.

Other defendants are accused of driving the copper loads to recyclers in California and Arizona, who would buy it for a fraction of market value.

PD: Copper thief electrocuted in Glendale
March 28, 2013 | CBS Channel 5
GLENDALE, AZ (AP) – A man found next to a transformer at a vacant Glendale business with burns over his entire body has died, authorities said. Glendale police said 57-year-old Gregory Johnson died Thursday at a hospital. They said Johnson was found Thursday in a commercial yard near 51st Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

Tempe man stops copper theft
April 22, 2008
A potential copper thief picked the wrong guy for a victim.

Arkansas

John Douglas Elliott, Jr. (courtesy 4029tv.com)

John D. Elliot, Jr., was killed during an alleged copper theft (courtesy Muskogee County Jail)

Sheriff: Homeowner shot, killed copper theft suspect
May 9, 2013 | 4029tv.com
Police say 23-year-old John Douglas Elliot, Jr., 23, was shot and killed after trying to steal copper from an abandoned home north of Muldrow.

Related Articles:

Copper thieves target work sites, A/C units
April 24, 2008
Thefts of copper and equipment containing copper are continuing in the Forrest City area, involving items from a single air conditioner to more than 1,000 feet of telephone wire.

Copper Thefts Still Problem, Region 8 Counties Want Federal Help
April 2, 2008 10:16 PM
Forrest City, AR (KAIT)- St. Francis County Sheriff, Bobby May, has seen his fair share of copper thefts in and around his county. He says nothing’s off limits to these thieves.

California

Alleged Copper Thief Electrocuted at Abandoned Factory in Oakland
July 24, 2014 | NBCBayArea.com

An alleged copper thief was electrocuted in West Oakland on Wednesday night, police said.

Police say the man was trying to steal copper wiring from the abandoned Pacific Pipe factory located in an industrial area.

Officers responded to a medical call in the 2200 block of Mandela Parkway near West Grand Avenue around 8:30 p.m., police said. They found him dead at the scene, having suffered injuries from live voltage wires.

Alleged Copper Thief Dies After Being Shocked in Anaheim
May 11, 2013 | KTLA Channel 5
ANAHEIM, Calif. (KTLA) — A man died after allegedly trying to steal copper wires from a hotel near Disneyland on Friday night. He and another man were shocked when they allegedly attempted the theft, suffering severe burns and touching off an explosion and power outage.

The blast happened around 9 p.m. near a vacant hotel on Katella Avenue. It caused several other neighborhood hotels and businesses filled with tourists to go dark. However, power was restored a few hours later.

Anaheim police told KTLA5 News the men caused the explosion when they cut into live wires. The pair was located behind a locked gate near two electrical panels, and several bolts had been removed from the panels. One of the suspected thieves was homeless and had been hoping to make a little money off of the copper wires, witnesses said.

Brownie was electrocuted

Brownie was electrocuted while out on a walk with his owner. Copper thieves had left a live wire exposed beneath the metal cover of an underground utility box. Courtesy ABC News

Dog electrocuted by exposed wires inside park utility boxMarch 27, 2013 – ABC News Ch. 7
HIGHLAND PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A dog named “Brownie” may have become a hero by accident after saving park visitors from a hidden electrical hazard. The dog was electrocuted as he stepped on the metal cover of a utility box in the ground. Officials blame vandals who may have been trying to steal copper.

On a Monday morning walk through San Pascual Park with his owners, he suddenly howled. Michel Giraldo went to the trembling dog.

“His body was still moving so I thought his little legs were still twitching and his face was too, so I thought maybe he was still alive, maybe going through some sort of attack,” said Giraldo.

Michel soon realized that electricity had energized a metal plate on top of a buried utility box in the grass.

“As soon as I grabbed his leg, the current just hit me. I felt the electricity go through my arm, so I already knew that’s what it was,” said Giraldo.

The hazard was created when thieves apparently stole copper wiring from the utility box.

Alleged copper wire thief dies after suffering electrical burns
May 7, 2012 – Los Angeles Times
A 26-year-old man who was seriously burned allegedly while trying to take copper wiring from a Southern California Edison electrical relay station has died, according to the San Bernardino County coroner’s office. Michael Morga Garcia, a San Bernardino resident, died at 8:32 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, the coroner’s office reported on its website.

FONTANA: Wire theft suspect electrocutedApril 16, 2012 – The Press-Enterprise
A 26-year-old man, apparently bent on stealing copper wire from a utility pole near Fontana, was electrocuted, dying at the scene, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

Inland lawmaker’s bill targets copper thieves
July 22, 2011 – The Press-Enterprise
SACRAMENTO – Copper theft continues to be a scourge in Inland Southern California, resulting in dozens of stolen fire hydrants, stripped streetlights, and even deaths from electrocution.

Copper thieves strike at Facebook’s future HQ
KGO-TV – ‎June 30, 2011
MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) — Menlo Park police are investigating three separate copper thefts at the site of Facebook’s future headquarters. Construction crews say someone took the copper from a storage unit and two of the nine vacant buildings on the …

Scripture To Think About: Proverbs 1:7-19
By mystere’s moonbat slayer club (mystere’s moonbat slayer club)
Recently, I had gotten an email from one of the Crawford Broadcasting Company engineers regarding the huge number of copper theft incidents going on nationwide. I emailed the engineers about the fact that someone will sooner or later …

San Diego Daily Transcript (subscription) – San Diego,CA,USA
Authorities say a man has been killed in an El Monte fire and explosion being attributed to an attempt to pilfer copper wires.

Colorado

Brian Repinski

Suspected copper thief electrocuted
October 29, 2009
An alleged thief was electrocuted in the commission of a crime early Wednesday and died later at a hospital, Pueblo police said. The victim was identified as 28-year-old Brian Repinski of Pueblo.

Courtesy photo thedenverchannel.com
Timothy Allan Nolan was sentenced to 14 years in state prison for his role in a series of copper thefts.

Man Gets 14 Years For Stealing Copper: Nolan Accused of Stealing 33,000 Pounds of Metal
August 15, 2007
DENVER — A man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for helping steal copper and other metals from businesses in the metro area.

Connecticut

Police: Copper theft leads to man’s electrocution
Oct. 1, 2014 | The Associated Press

WATERBURY, Conn. – (AP) — Police say a Waterbury man has been electrocuted while trying to steal copper from a closed public housing complex. The Republican-American reports (http://bit.ly/1vwoobJ ) that authorities found bolt cutters that Jose Ortiz was using to strip wiring from a transformer box.

The bolt cutters were soldered to the box. Police say a hat, socks and shoe were nearby. The 48-year-old Ortiz was taken to Waterbury Hospital at 10 p.m. Sunday, wearing a shoe that matched the other found at the housing site. Authorities don’t know who took him to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

Police seek public’s help in copper theft investigation
June 23, 2011
Danielson, Conn. — Facing a significant increase in the theft of copper and other metal from vacant houses, state police at the Danielson barracks are turning to the public for help. Lt. Francis Conroy, commanding officer of the Danielson barracks, said the thefts have occurred throughout the 12-town northeastern Connecticut region covered by Troop D.

Delaware

Copper Theft in DelawareMay 13, 2010
It appears that some people haven’t thought carefully about their metals business plan before moving to secure investment dollars. WGMD News has reported that the Delaware State Police issued a news release that three irrigation systems have been targeted for copper tubing theft in the Frankford, MD area in the past several weeks. This follows another news release from January in which the Delaware State Police asked for citizens to be aware of copper theft in farming irrigation systems.

Senate votes to stiffen copper theft penalties
People selling copper to scrap dealers or pawn shops would no longer be anonymous under a bill that passed the state Senate unanimously Thursday.

Siblings arrested in copper theft case
Bridgeville, DE – March 28, 2008 (WPVI) — Detectives assigned to the Troop 4 Property Crimes Unit completed a four day investigation into thefts of metal from a local irrigation service business. The investigation began on Tuesday after an employee of O.A. Newton Company reported a theft of property from the business located at 16356 Sussex Highway in near Bridgeville.

Florida

Drug habit may have prompted electrocuted man’s copper thefts, family says
Sept. 18, 2014 | sun-sentinel.com
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —Just before 10 a.m. Sept. 12, Orange County deputies found Terry Bowers’ electrocuted body along State Road 408. That was the first bit of news anyone in his family had heard about 57-year-old Bowers since he disappeared two months earlier.

Deputies say Bowers was attempting to steal valuable copper wiring from a utility pole between exits 1 and 2 on the toll road when he was killed by the electricity.

Deputies confirmed his identity Tuesday, and by Wednesday, his body had been cremated and sent to his father. Since his death, deputies have linked Bowers to about $100,000 in copper thefts from dozens of light poles along S.R. 429 from July 31 to Sept. 8.

‘Takes His Convictions Seriously’
April 7, 2008 | The Ledger
BARTOW | At an isolated electric substation, the Polk sheriff’s lieutenant looked for signs of copper theft and for stolen cars that might be hidden between rows of trees that drooped with fruit and blossoms.

Bill seeks to stem copper theft rise
Florida Today — March 28, 2008

Copper Thefts: Lawmakers consider tougher penalties
Tallahassee, Florida — With copper prices soaring, so is copper theft, creating power outages, communication breakdowns and other issues beyond the immediate thievery. The problem has gotten so bad — some people think the economic slowdown contributes to the crime — that legislators are likely to increase penalties for copper theft that damages or interrupts utilities or communication services. A bill moving quickly through the House and Senate would make such theft a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Copper theft at the Waterfront Rescue Mission
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Copper is stolen this weekend from a Pensacola charity. It happened at the Waterfront Rescue Mission Thrift store on Fairfield drive.

Georgia

Kenneth Lewis

Kenneth Baine Lewis, Sr. (Courtesy J.W. Williams Funeral Home)

Man’s body found in Montezuma Warehouse
Sept. 19, 2014 | Americus Times-Recorder

MONTEZUMA — On Thursday, officers of the Montezuma Police Department were dispatched to the old Allen’s warehouse on Airport Road to the report of a burglary. A press release from Montezuma Police Chief Eric Finch, employees of Allen’s and the Tyco Integrated Security were at the building working on the alarm system when they noticed copper tubing and electricity boxes which contained wiring had been cut. That’s when they notified police.

Upon the arrival of Officer Christopher Halstead, the building was searched and when they entered the electricity control room, they noticed the lower torso of a body up on the metal duct work. Halstead gave several commands for the person to come down, but immediately noticed that he was not moving. Emergency personnel responded along with Georgia Power which cut the power to the building. Police officers identified the body as Kenneth Baine Lewis of Byromville. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene by Macon County Coroner Brenda Oglesby.

Courtesy photo meaningfulfunerals.net
Derek Siniard

Copper Theft Death
May 9, 2008
A 36-year-old Rockmart, Georgia., man is dead after authorities say he tried to cut copper cable from a Georgia Power Company Pole. Floyd County police identified the victim as Derek Charles Siniard. The incident happened at about 6 a.m. Saturday. Hall says Siniard collapsed while cutting the line.

Copper Theft Crackdown
May 7, 2008
South Carolina legislators are trying to cut down on people stealing copper, and selling it for cash. Under the proposal heading to the Senate, people selling scrap copper would have to show photo i-d. The proposal makes theft of copper, aluminum, and stainless steel beer kegs a felony. If the loss or damage caused by the theft is more than five-thousand dollars, the thief could face up to ten years in prison. Damages between one and five thousand dollars would mean five years behind bars. The bill aslo states that scrap dealers must make photocopies of a seller’s i-d.

Hawaii

No easy solution to theft of copper
Robert Okuda, his mother and father unceremoniously turn away suspicious-looking characters who show up every day at their family’s recycling business with plenty of copper pipes, copper wire and other copper parts — but no identification and no reasonable explanation of how they got the copper.

Idaho

Copper theft on the rise. Guess what? You’re paying the price
April 25, 2008
CALDWELL – In the past nine months, the price of copper has skyrocketed and that has an underground and illegal theft industry thriving in Idaho. Thieves are striking construction sites, power companies, and farms. And they’re cashing in at up $3.00 a pound.

Illinois

Daniel Paige was electrocuted (Courtesy Illinois Dept. of Corrections)

Daniel Paige was electrocuted Sept. 1, 2013, after cutting a live wire while attempting to steal copper. (Courtesy Illinois Dept. of Corrections)

Police: Convicted Thief Electrocuted While Stealing Copper | CBSLocal.com
September 4, 2013
JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) – Detectives believe a man was trying to steal copper when he was electrocuted by cutting a live wire this weekend, the Joliet Herald-News reports.

Around 3:30 p.m. Monday, a friend of Daniel J. Paige, 50, directed police to his body near some ComEd lines on the property of Seeler Industries, 1 Genstar Lane, according to Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas. Paige’s brother reported him missing to Joliet police on Sunday.

Jacob Worthen

Jacob Worthen

Identity released of Murphysboro electrocution victim
March 12, 2012
MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) – The identity of a Murphysboro man who died after being electrocuted has been released.  Police say he and two other men tried to steal copper wire Monday morning from a building. Jacob Worthen, 26, of Murphysboro was found dead inside an abandoned manufacturing facility, according to Murphysboro police.

Richard Duncan

Lockport Man Electrocuted in Park
November 29, 2011
A Lockport man was electrocuted Wednesday night while trying to steal copper wire at Dellwood Park West, according to police. “One viable print” from the badly burned body of Richard E. Duncan, 62, led to his identification Thursday evening, Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil said.

Sword stolen from statue at Lincoln’s TombNovember 12, 2011
(AP)  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Copper thieves have struck at Abraham Lincoln’s burial site in Springfield, Ill. An employee recently noticed that a copper statue atop the tomb was missing a 3-foot-long sword. The statue is of a Civil War artillery officer. The sword was allegedly taken sometime between September and early November. It was broken at the handle.

Police: Electrocution victim was stealing copper from wire
October 27, 2011
LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP, IL — Police say Richard E. Duncan of Lockport was stealing copper wires when he was electrocuted Wednesday night at Dellwood Park West. “One viable print” from the badly burned body of Duncan, 62, led to his identification Thursday evening, Will County Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil said.

Courtesy photo Illinois Department of Corrections
According to authorities, Mark W. Becker, 34, was electrocuted Oct. 14, 2011, in Madison County, Ill., while attempting to steal electrical wires.

Officials: Granite City man killed trying to steal electrical wiring
October 15, 2011
A Granite City man who allegedly was attempting to steal electrical wiring was electrocuted Thursday, according to Madison County officials.  Mark William Becker, 34, was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. Friday on the property of 10 Cut St. in unincorporated Alton, by Madison County Coroner’s Supervisory Investigator Robert M. Lewis.

Courtesy photo KMOV Channel 4, St. Louis
Shane Reese

Police: Man severely shocked in attempted copper theft in custody
June 16, 2011
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV) – A Wood River, Illinois man has been taken into custody after attempting to steal copper. Shane Reese, 35, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of criminal damage to property. According to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Reese was found last Sunday badly burned, bleeding and naked near the Ameren IP substation on Cut Street in Alton, Illinois.

Ameren’s simply safety message: Don’t try to kill yourselves — or us
Herald & Review – June 9, 2011
DECATUR – Ameren Illinois is generating a simple safety message for its customers: please don’t try to kill yourselves, or us. Two of the biggest dangers out there, say utility officials, are wrongly wired portable generators and the theft of copper wiring from its substations. Both situations can have catastrophic and expensive consequences.

Indiana

Courtesy photo WTHR Channel 13
According to police, Jeffrey Reynolds, 31, was electrocuted while he was stealing copper wire from the roof of Circle City Industrial Complex, an industrial building on Massachusetts Avenue near downtown Indianapolis.

Copper theft nets man 7 years in prison
September 30, 2011
A South Bend man will serve a little more than seven years in prison for helping to steal almost $3 million of material from a Gary warehouse.

Indianapolis man electrocuted: copper theft suspected
February 17, 2011
Indianapolis – An Indianapolis man was killed Thursday morning after being electrocuted. Metro Police say he was trying to steal copper wiring from a rooftop transformer.

According to police, Jeffrey Reynolds, 31, was electrocuted while he was stealing copper wire from the roof of Circle City Industrial Complex, an industrial building on Massachusetts Avenue near downtown. The fire department and IPL had to remove the body and turn off power to make it safe. Crews closed Massachusetts Avenue between Columbia Ave and Newman Street for several hours Thursday morning.

Charges filed in copper wire death
June 27, 2007 | Indystar.com
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — A man faces charges in the death of an accomplice who police say was fatally shocked while the two were trying to steal copper wire. Gary L. Olds, 52, of Columbus, was arrested Monday and was being held without bond in the Shelby County Jail in the death of David A. Hoagland, 35, of Edinburgh. Olds was scheduled to be in court Wednesday.

Hoagland’s body was found June 8 in a soybean field near Flat Rock, about 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis. An autopsy determined that he had burns on his arms and legs and died of electric shock.

Iowa

Siouxland farmers warned about copper crooks
November 20, 2013 | The Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | Farmers are being told to watch for copper thieves after irrigation systems in several fields were stripped of wiring. Nine fields in Union County, S.D., and three to four in Woodbury County have been hit by thieves this fall, sheriff officials said. Similar incidents have been reported in Sioux and Monona counties in Iowa.

Thieves sell the wire for scrap. Thefts from irrigation units typically increase when farmers clear crops from fields, allowing easier access, said Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt.

“We’re telling farmers to check irrigation units once a week just to make sure everything is still good,” he said.

The South Dakota thefts were near Jefferson and Elk Point. Some of the copper was more than 1,000 feet long and will cost thousands of dollars to replace, said Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges.

“We’re talking a substantial amount of money,” he said.

Iowa scrap metal law presents mixed results
June 23, 2013 | The Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY — An Iowa law meant to curb scrap metal theft hasn’t put a dent in raids on construction sites, rural farmsteads and businesses, police say.

Arrest made on copper thefts
February 27, 2013 | Southwest Iowa News
The Harrison County Communications Center received a call from a Monona County farmer, Feb. 21, advising of a suspicious vehicle in a field. The farmer reported the vehicle and occupants were southbound from Blencoe and were trespassing on his property.

Deputies from Harrison County stopped the vehicle at the Mondamin exchange near Interstate 29. After a brief investigation, the officers discovered the occupants had been in Monona County burning copper wire. A joint investigation with Monona and Harrison County began. During the course of this investigation several hundred pounds of copper wire were recovered along with burglary tools.

Two subjects, Vincent Cerny, 35, and Heather Avila, 30, both of Omaha, were charged in Monona County and are currently being held in the Monona County Jail on several felonies each with bonds of $10,000.

Omaha pair in custody for bulk copper theft
February 23, 2013 | Southwest Iowa News and Omaha.com
An Omaha pair are in custody in connection with the theft of several hundred pounds of copper wire. Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a Monona County farmer called authorities to report spotting a suspicious vehicle trespassing in his field, which was then traveling southbound from Blencoe, the Monona County Sheriff’s Office said.

Harrison County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped the vehicle on Interstate 29 near Mondamin, and after an investigation found the couple, Vincent Cerny, 35, and Heather Avila, 30, had been burning copper wire in Monona County.

Siouxland copper thief sentenced to prison, by Molly Montag
January 24, 2013 | The Sioux City Journal

ONAWA, Iowa | A Council Bluffs, Iowa, man who admitted to stealing copper from farm irrigation systems from Sioux City to St. Joseph, Mo., has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Jonathan Dale Campbell, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison, restitution of $174,048 and three years of supervised release after his prison term is complete.

Campbell admitted in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that he and three other men stole copper from center-pivot irrigation systems and sold the copper to a scrap yard in Omaha. The copper was stolen at night, often from farms in Monona and Harrison counties, the statement said.

Council Bluffs residents Charles Douglas Nichols, 35, and Joseph Daniel Falknor, 30, were previously sentenced for their part in the copper thefts. Nichols was ordered to serve 2.5 years in prison. Falknor was sentenced to a year.

3 jailed in copper theft from phone tower
November 15, 2012 | Omaha World Herald
COUNCIL BLUFFS — Three people remained in jail Wednesday on suspicion of stealing copper from a U.S. Cellular phone tower just north of Council Bluffs, according to the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office. Jodi R. Huftless, 24, of Platts­mouth, Neb., April M. Hinman, 32, of Pacific Junction, Iowa, and David J. Jay, 31, of Glenwood, Iowa, were arrested Saturday morning.

Five States Get Copper Theft Laws
April 23, 2012 | Ect.Coop
Fighting metal theft has long been a priority for Georgia’s co-ops and one of those hardest hit is pleased with the measure Gov. Nathan Deal approved. “The prohibition of cash payments, registration of recyclers, and maintenance of a statewide database should help curtail these crimes,” said Tom Parker, vice president, external affairs and member relations at Georgia Transmission Corp. Last year, Georgia Transmission had 143 copper theft incidents, and this year it has already had 29. Each incident is estimated to cost between $3,000 and $5,000.

3 arrested for copper theft at Sans Souci Island
Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier — April 23, 2011
WATERLOO, Iowa — A call concerning suspicious people hanging around abandoned homes on Sans Souci island led to arrests for stealing scrap metal Friday.

Copper theft bill passes House
March 3, 2011 | Des Moines Register
Iowa’s local governments would be permitted to pass copper theft ordinances requiring salvage dealers to keep complete records of their suppliers.

Rise in copper prices causes increase in theftRadio Iowa
January 3, 2011
Copper, which is used in plumbing and wiring, is over four dollars a pound and Cedar Rapids police spokesperson Cristy Hamblin says thieves have been bold about stealing it.

Copper Thieves Sneak into Monona County Fields
KCAU-TV, Sioux City, IA — April 2, 2010
They used to stick to the cities, but now copper thieves are headed out into the country in search of a metal that’s going for a high price these days. In the past three months, the Monona County Sheriff’s Department has had 17 different thefts of copper from farm’s irrigation systems, creating a big thorn in the side of local farmers and costing them big bucks.

Harris man arrested on copper theft
October 12, 2008
SPIRIT LAKE, IA — Police say a 28-year-old Harris, Iowa, man has been arrested for suspicion of stealing copper from a farm site in rural Dickinson County. According to a statement issued Thursday, Dickinson County sheriff deputies arrested Charles Gerald Caviness on Wednesday on a felony charge of second-degree theft and misdemeanor charges of third-degree theft and failure to register as a sex offender.

Page One Sioux City Journal 10-28-07Courtesy photo Sioux City Journal
“No one is going to let this go away,” Doug Thelander told the Sioux City Journal two months after his father, Earl Thelander, died from burns suffered in an explosion caused by copper thieves.

Remembering Earl Thelander
May 10, 2008
KTIV Channel 4 News

Copper Theft Killing Now a Cold Case Investigation
May 8, 2008
Thieves carting off copper leave behind a deadly trap for a homeowner in Onawa, Iowa. Now authorities need help looking for a killer in this case that’s gone cold after almost a year.

All that Remains
Slideshow video of all that remains of a rural Iowa home after copper thieves cut propane lines and let the home fill with gas. The house later exploded, leading to the death of Earl Thelander of Onawa, Ia. Those responsible have yet to be arrested.

Family offers reward in Earl Thelander death
January 6, 2008 – KTIV News Channel 4, Sioux City

‘A good man died a needless, pointless death’
October 28, 2007 – The Sioux City Journal
Two months after blast, search continues for those responsible.

Monday’s Our View: Tragic turn
September 10, 2007 – The Daily Nonpareil
Our Position: Copper thieves responsible for man’s death

More articles on Earl Thelander death

Kansas

Wichita man dies after apparently electrocuting himself while climbing utility pole with bolt cutters | Wichita Eagle – June 7, 2013
A man in his mid-20s has died in south Wichita after apparently electrocuting himself while climbing a utility pole with a bolt cutter and coming into contact with a live wire, a police official said Friday. Westar Energy spokesman Nick Bundy, who spoke to reporters at the scene after the man’s body was found, said, “We’ve been worried that something like this was going to happen.”

Copper theft, even from high-voltage utility equipment, has spiked since last year, Bundy said. The top line on the utility pole where the man was found Friday carries 7,200 volts, Bundy said.

Getting away with metal
Hutchinson News – Hutchinson, KS, USA
GREAT BEND – Scott Loving has battled a lot of issues in the couple of decades he’s helped run his family’s Pawnee and Barton county farm – everything from input costs to inclement weather. But in all his years of farming, he never thought he’d see anything like this recent plague: copper theft.

Kentucky

Police in Louisville, Ny., are trying to identify this person of interest in a series of copper thefts in southern Indiana. (Courtesy photo Floyd County Sheriff)

Police Searching for Copper Theft Suspect
November 15, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police said there is a new lead in a series of copper thefts in southern Indiana. Floyd County Sheriff’s officers said they have a person of interest and a vehicle they believe may have involved in the copper caper. Police are trying to identify a man seen in surveillance video who they believe may have some knowledge about the case.

Copper theft becoming serious issue
Times-Tribune – July 21, 2011
Law enforcement in the Tri-County said they have seen copper theft create many issues in the area recently with phone lines and that copper theft can be a very dangerous risk to take.

PSC WARNS AGAINST COPPER THEFT
Activity is both illegal and extremely dangerous
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 31, 2006) – With the theft of electrical wire on the increase because of the soaring price of copper, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) today warned that the activity can have lethal consequences.

Louisiana

Timothy Lewis Courtesy photo Houma Today
Timothy Lewis, 34, was electrocuted at a substation while cutting a ground wire in an attempt to steal copper wiring, Terrebonne sheriff’s deputies said. His 20-year-old girlfriend fled the scene after his death but was later arrested.
Tonya NaquinCourtesy photo Daily Comet
Tonya Naquin, 20, was arrested and charged with unauthorized entry of a business, attempted theft over $500 and a simple criminal damage to property over $5000. She was held at the Terrebonne Parish jail in lieu of a $100,500 bond, and faced up to 9 years in prison if convicted. Her boyfriend, 34-year-old Timothy Lewis, was killed in the attempted copper theft.

Electric shock kills alleged copper thief
August 3, 2011
A Houma man was killed early this morning by an electrical shock at the Entergy substation while cutting a ground wire in an attempt to steal copper wiring, Terrebonne sheriff’s deputies said. The charred body of 34-year-old Timothy Lewis, 144 Vivian St., was found about 2 a.m. by Entergy employees responding to the resulting power outage.

Lewis and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Tonya Naquin, cut through a fence surrounding the substation, 1701 Coteau Road, and Lewis was killed while cutting a ground wire. Naquin then fled, and was arrested shortly after police issued a warrant for her arrest.

Copper Thieves Go Against Work of Church
July 5, 2011
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Copper thieves strike again– this time causing thousands of dollars in damage to a facility that will play a key role in the future of Catholics in our area. It’s a building undergoing renovations to help young men considering the priesthood. Diocese Officials hope they’ll be able to stay on track with the opening planned for August.

Don’t take a chance with your life
The rash of copper thefts in the state has prompted the Louisiana Legislature to pass two laws during the 2007 Legislative Session that directly impact the stealing of copper from utilities. House Bill 184 makes the theft of utility property a crime punishable of a fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment for not less than two years or more than 10 years, or both.

Maine

Real estate agent says copper theft averted
May 7, 2008
MERCER — Men in the process of cutting out all the copper pipe in a house for sale on U.S. Route 2 Monday evening were interrupted by the arrival of a real estate agent and prospective buyers. “It was quite a surprise. I saw a strange truck in the driveway when we pulled in,” said Dan Savage from Surette Century 21. “We had gone around the back and I walked right into one of them coming up from the basement stairs, carrying a load of copper.

Maryland

Indictment in Md. copper theft plot
June 18, 2010
A federal grand jury has indicted an Annapolis man on charges of theft in an alleged plot to steal copper cables worth more than $300,000. The indictment against 54-year-old Levon Smith was returned on Tuesday. Smith was arrested on Thursday.

Two charged in Anne Arundel air conditioner theft
April 29, 2010 – The Washington Post
A man and woman from Severn were arrested after they were caught stealing air conditioners they planned to loot for scrap copper from a Hanover business, the Anne Arundel police announced Thursday. The suspects, David F. Burrows, 46, and Jeanne Z. Simms, 45, both of Severn, were arrested and charged with trespassing and theft, according to a press release.

Massachusetts

Metal thieves reach new heights, targeting copper sheathing on cell towers
August 16, 2011
Lakeville — Thieves determined to reap value from scrap metal have pried storm grates from streets, sliced catalytic converters from cars and trucks, and stripped copper downspouts from churches.

Red Gold Rush: The Copper Theft Epidemic
CSO – Framingham, MA
Copper has never been more valuable, or more stolen. Inside the metal theft epidemic and CSOs’ struggle to contain the problem.

Michigan

Bloomfield Hills man charged with murder in shooting of copper thief
September 20, 2011 — theoaklandpress.com

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit man has been charged with first-degree murder on accusations he fatally shot a man who was stripping copper pipes from a vacant apartment building.

Twenty-nine-year-old Edward Khalil of Bloomfield Township was arraigned Tuesday in Detroit’s 36th District court on murder and possession of a firearm during a felony. A judge set Khalil’s bond at $50,000 cash.

He’s charged in Thursday’s killing of 50-year-old Tony Jones.

Detroit police Sgt. Eren Stephens tells the Detroit Free Press that police aren’t sure if Khalil was acting as a security guard. She says police were told more than one person was stealing copper from the building.

A Wayne County Jail employee said Khalil remained in custody Tuesday night, and there’s no record of whether he has a lawyer.

 

Copper thieves get killed cutting into power lines
September 27, 2006 — USA Today
At least seven men in five states have been fatally electrocuted since July while hacking through power lines to steal wire made of copper, which has been commanding near-record prices, police say.

Minnesota

On Minneapolis’ North Side, copper-theft epidemic adds to mounting housing problems
April 10, 2008
The strange whooshing sound first caught Farrokh Azmoudeh’s attention Monday afternoon. Then the stench of natural gas hit him — all coming from a dilapidated brick duplex on a troubled block in Minneapolis’ Hawthorne neighborhood. Azmoudeh, lead inspector with the city’s Problem Properties Unit, quickly checked out the building at 2518 N. Fourth St. and discovered the source of the noise and smell: a stream of gas spewing from a length of severed copper pipe connected to the meter on the outside of the house.

Mississippi

Eight from Mississippi booked in Plaquemines Parish copper theft ring
July 1, 2011
Nine suspects have been arrested in connection with a copper theft ring in Plaquemines Parish that generated nearly $360,000 over 20 months, authorities announced today.

Copper Theft – Is the law working?
July 27, 2010
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – Skyrocketing prices for metals, especially copper, has turned a minor nuisance into an epidemic. Copper theft costs over $1 billion a year according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Governor Vetoes Copper Theft Legislation
May 13, 2008
Jackson — The theft of copper is a growing problem across Mississippi.  Lawmakers thought they passed a bill that would be a deterrent.

Senator David Blount on the 2008 Legislative Accomplishments
April 30, 2008 – By Staff of Y’all Politics
Tougher penalties for copper theft: Copper theft is a crisis in our community. A recent theft at Magnolia Speech School cost the school more than $100000. Some warning sirens failed to work in the recent tornadoes due to stolen copper.

Copper Theft Silences Siren
WLBT-TV – Jackson, MS
About 10 of Hinds county’s 60 warning sirens did not work during Friday’s storms. Emergency Management Director Larry Fisher says, in most cases, it’s a repair issue that causes the failure, but it was copper thieves who put lives in danger by disabling one warning siren north of Watkins Drive and Beasley Road, near Fire Station 21.

Missouri

Suspected Thief Electrocuted
June 13, 2011
St. Louis, Mo. (KMOX) — A man was electrocuted Sunday night in Madison County while, police suspect, he was attempting to steal copper wire. Three witnesses stated they were driving in Alton, Ill., when they saw the man screaming for help, badly burned and bleeding.

Two severely burned at Progress Energy SubstationJune 7, 2010
Two people were severely burned overnight when they apparently climbed over the fence surrounding a Progress Energy substation in Wake County and touched live wires inside, according to officials from the Wake County sheriff office and the power company.

Copper thieves turn to graves in Dunklin County
Southeast Missourian – Cape Girardeau, MO
… area to report to authorities any suspicious activity they witness, specifically regarding the recent cases surrounding copper theft,” Chidister said.

Montana

Four Sentenced in Copper Theft
MISSOULA – Four Hungry Horse residents have been sentenced on federal charges stemming from copper thefts from Flathead Valley power substations.

Nebraska

Copper Theft Crackdown
WOWT News Channel 6, Omaha

Nevada

Copper Theft Leaves Las Vegas Streets Dark
April 18, 2008 — KLAS-TV – Las Vegas, NV
It’s found in air conditioning systems, utility substations, light poles and more. Criminals see copper as a shining opportunity and quick cash.

New Hampshire

Spike in copper thefts spurs look at NH law
July 24, 2011 — The Union Leader
Police from the Lakes Region to Nashua are trying to stem the theft of copper, and some say it might help them if New Hampshire adopted a law like one in Vermont.

Courtesy photo phillyburbs.com via Facebook
Patrick Dembrowski, 21, of Woodland, N.J., was electrocuted attempting to steal copper from a generator at a vacant building in Warrington.

New Jersey

Man electrocuted trying to take copper wire
PhillyBurbs.com – August 24, 2011
A 21-year-old New Jersey man was electrocuted attempting to steal copper wiring from a vacant Warrington building shortly before midnight Aug. 16, according to police. Patrick D. Dembrowski was dead when police arrived at the former METCO Manufacturing at Countyline Road and Titus Avenue.

New Mexico

Police want public to see gross picture
May 16, 2012

Courtesy photo KRQE 
Los Lunas, N.M. police released the photo of Dennis Vega’s badly burned body in hopes it would deter criminals who try to steal copper. Vega, 48, was burned when he broke into a cabinet company’s pump house and cut live copper cables.

Los Lunas police have released the photo of a man they say was severely burned after he attempted to steal live copper cables.

The photo of 48-year-old Dennis Vega’s badly burned torso and face is shocking in more ways than one and police are hoping criminals take notice.

Police say Vega broke into the pump house of a Los Lunas cabinet company that recently went out of business. They say he was cutting the live copper cables when he was shocked and thrown across the building.

Rescue crews who arrived on the scene say minutes after the incident the force was still so strong it blew out a second generator.

Police say Vega somehow made it to the Wal-Mart down the street to ask for help. They say the car Vega was driving even had burnt skin stuck to the seats.

Los Lunas Police Chief Roy Melnick says Vega was unemployed so he likely doesn’t have medical insurance, which means the public will be paying his medical bills.

Recent Copper Thefts Cause Death and Widespread Damage

NM couple arrested for copper theft
A New Mexico couple is behind bars today for suspicion of stealing communications wire from two railroads in Douglas County.

New York

Courtesy photo Buffalo News
Eric Waterstram, 37, of Niagara Falls, and Crystal D. Knepp, 28, of Newfane, were each charged with felony second-degree burglary, felony second-degree criminal mischief and petit larceny after a natural gas explosion destroyed an unoccupied home where the two were trying to steal copper.

Couple charged in house explosion: Man, woman have history of copper theft arrests
October 25, 2011
TOWN OF NIAGARA — A natural gas explosion in July that destroyed a home and caused injuries on the busy Military Road business strip was the result of thieves detaching a gas pipe while trying to steal copper from the basement of an unoccupied house.

Now, a man and woman believed to be responsible have been arrested and face felony charges, the Niagara County sheriff said at a news conference Monday.

Eric Waterstram, 37, of Niagara Falls, and Crystal D. Knepp, 28, of Newfane, were each charged each with felony second-degree burglary, felony second-degree criminal mischief and petit larceny.

David R. GroveCourtesy photo The Daily News
David R. Grove, 32, was shot in the basement of a home gutted by a fire the night before that had killed a 52-year-old woman.

Police pursuing ‘many avenues’ in Albion slaying
August 20, 2011
ALBION, NY — Police are pursuing ‘‘many avenues and working several leads’’ in connection with the weekend slaying of a village man, Village Police Chief Roland Nenni said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Few new details were released, however, regarding the shooting death of David R. Grove, 32, a parolee who lived at 127 West State St. Grove was shot while in the basement of 222 West State St. early Saturday morning, a house that was gutted by fire Thursday night that killed a 52-year-old woman.

NIAGARA FALLS: Theft nearly triggers explosionApril 27, 2008 — Niagara Gazette
It sounded like a water leak, but what was happening in the basement of a Third Street building on Saturday night could have ended in tragedy.

PoconoNews.net – Newburgh, New York
April 8, 2008
One theft happened over the weekend at a building company in Delaware Township. Police say one or more people broke into Vanatta Realty and Builders, on Conashaugh Road, and removed several hundred dollars worth of copper wire and tubing.

North Carolina

No charges against NC man who killed copper thief
Sept. 28, 2013 | WBTW-TV News
WENTWORTH, N.C. (AP) – Prosecutors have determined they won’t be charging a man who shot and killed a copper thief. The News & Record of Greensboro reports that Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. said Friday he would not be bringing charges against Steve Hall. Hall shot and killed Jesse Ray Walker at about 3 a.m. on July 8. Authorities say Walker was carrying copper wire away from Hall’s Reidsville business.

Brandon Joe Hanks (courtesy Rockingham County Sheriff's Office)

Brandon Joe Hanks (courtesy Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office)

Bond reduced for man accused in copper theft – News-Record.com: Crime
July 22, 2013 | News & Record
WENTWORTH − The alleged accomplice of a man killed during an attempted burglary July 8 made his first appearance in Rockingham County District Court Monday.

Brandon Joe Hanks, 27, is charged with breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen property. Hanks and Jesse Ray Walker, 28, are alleged to have broken into Hall Well & Plumbing on Flat Rock Road in Reidsville shortly after 3 a.m. Walker was shot and killed by an employee of the business.

Courtesy photo Fair Funeral Home
Brandon Lee Creasy, 23, was electrocuted while allegedly attempting to remove copper wiring from a power company’s substation.

Man Electrocuted Attempting to Steal Copper From Power Company SubstationAugust 29, 2012
Wentworth, NC– A man is dead and investigators believe his death is related to attempted copper theft. According to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, the man was found around 3 a.m. Wednesday in Eden at the Virginia Solite Plant.

The man was identified Brandon Creasy, 23 of Eden, NC. The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office out of Virginia is investigating the death. Officers there said they believe Creasy was electrocuted while attempting to remove copper wiring from the substation.

Thomas FreemanCourtesy photo ABC  News
Police in northeast Charlotte, NC, say Thomas Freeman was killed after cutting an electrical line and falling 30 feet to the ground.

Man Shocked to Death in Copper Robbery
January 7, 2011 | ABC News
Police say Thomas Freeman and two other men came up with the plan at Freeman’s house late yesterday afternoon. But that plan took a deadly turn when Freeman tried to climb a utility pole and cut electrical lines with a bolt cutter.

Freeman was killed when he climbed a tall ladder, cut an electrical line, was shocked and fell 30 feet to the ground. The two men with him rushed him to the hospital, but Freeman later died.

Courtesy photo Gaston County Police
Matthew Warren Ward, 29, was electrocuted while stealing copper from a Duke Power sub-station.

Thief dies by electrocution while stealing copper, police say
October 11, 2011
STANLEY – Police say a man stealing copper from a Duke Power sub-station was electrocuted to death Monday night.

Fire and police responded to a possible fire at the sub-station in the 400 block of Hovis Road in Stanly around 11:40 p.m. The body of Matthew Warren Ward, 29, was found after crews put out the fire, Gaston County Police said.

John Hylemon

Deputies: Man Electrocuted While Stealing Wire: John Wesley Hylemon Dies Early Wednesday Morning
March 30, 2011
MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. — A 19-year-old man was killed early Wednesday morning when he was electrocuted when trying to steal copper wire from a substation, and the man he was with is charged in the death, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office said.

McDowell County sheriff’s Capt. Shannon Smith said 19-year-old John Wesley Hylemon, of Marion, N.C., was with 31-year-old Steven Jason Patton, of Nebo, at the Duke Power substation off Highway 126 in the Nebo Community when Hylemon was electrocuted at about 5 a.m.

William J. Reavis Courtesy photo The (NC) Pilot
William J. Reavis, 23, cut a ground wire atop a high-voltage regulator and came in contact with a deadly charge of electricity.

Fatal Copper Theft Attempt
Sept. 7, 2010
William J. Reavis shouldn’t have been inside the normally locked fenced perimeter of a co-op substation in Raeford, N.C. on Aug. 14. But the 23-year-old man was perched atop a high-voltage regulator around 4 a.m. when he apparently cut a ground wire and came in contact with a deadly charge of electricity.

Cable Theft Cuts Phone, Internet Service in Durham
February 24, 2008
DURHAM, N.C.
— The theft of two aerial cables left about 480 Verizon customers without landline or cell phone and Internet service in parts of southern and eastern Durham on Saturday.

North Dakota

Theft of $50 worth of copper leads to $30,000 in damages near Wahpeton | Detroit Lakes Online | September 6, 2013
Near midnight on Sept. 4, emergency responders and Otter Tail Power Company personnel reacted to information from a caller who noticed arcing in an electrical substation in north Wahpeton, N.D.

Not only does copper theft from electric service equipment often injure or kill those stealing it, it also is a federal offense. “The Department of Homeland Security considers interference with the electrical grid to be a potential act of terrorism,” said Otter Tail Company’s safety service manager Eric Hamm said.

Gardner Shop Reports Large Copper Theft
April 1, 2010
The Cass County Sheriff`s Office is investigating an apparent large copper theft. Authorities say a shop in the small town of Gardner reported that about 650 pounds of scrap copper and copper wire disappeared in the past two weeks. At current recycling prices, the copper is worth about $2,000.
Also see: Law enforcement investigates theft of copper in Gardner

Ohio

Youngstown News, Scrap thieves show again what a scourge on society they are
May 24, 2013 | Vindy.com
Scrap thieves are certainly among the dimmest lights in the pantheon of petty crooks.

We have seen them defile cemeteries for a few pounds of bronze. Destroy sculpture thinking a scrap dealer wouldn’t recognize a hand as a piece of art. Electrocute themselves cutting into a high-voltage copper line. And spark explosions that destroy homes and endanger neighborhoods while stripping natural gas lines.

All of these things have been reported multiple times — and not just in newspapers, which we’re kind of hoping people stupid enough to disconnect a functioning gas line don’t read — but on television and radio. And if there’s a pantheon of thieves, don’t they ever talk to each other about the best and worst practices of their craft?

We can only assume not, because last week in Austintown there was another near disaster when a home at 2196 S. Turner Road exploded as the result of thieves breaking a gas line while stealing scrap. The house valued at about $80,000 was destroyed, but it could have been worse.

Reward Offered in Copper Thefts: Thieves get $300 in copper, cause $15,000 in damage
ECT.coop – June 21, 2011
After copper thieves caused major damage at a substation, an Ohio co-op is reiterating its offer of a $5,000 reward in such cases.

Man found dead at electrical substation
June 30, 2009 | Vindy.com
GUSTAVUS — An electrocution during an apparent copper theft is not the first time such a deadly incident has occurred in the Mahoning Valley. Ohio Edison officials and local authorities found a man’s body at an electrical substation in Gustavus Township on Monday morning while responding to a power outage.

About 2,000 Ashtabula and Trumbull county residents were without power for a time after the man was electrocuted about 1:30 a.m. at the Stoddard-Hayes Road facility. He could not be immediately identified because of the severity of his burns.

Copper thieves strike old train station in Elyria: Damages of $75,000 prompt county to add security cameras
Cindy Leise | The Chronicle-Telegram | March 29, 2008
ELYRIA — Copper thieves have caused so much damage to copper flashing and decorative panels on the historic New York Central train station on Depot Street that it will cost the county nearly $75,000 to repair.

Ohio Senate’s metal bill irks city: Anti-theft measure would be statewide
Thursday,  March 13, 2008 3:33 AM
BY JIM SIEGEL -THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
As thieves continue to cash in on rising scrap-metal prices by swiping air conditioners, automobile parts and telephone wiring, state lawmakers and Ohio municipal officials are wrestling over who can craft the best law to stop them.

Oklahoma

Sheriff’s Office: Oklahoma Man Found Dead After Attempted Copper Theft
August 2, 2013 | Menafn Times Record
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –An Oklahoma man was found electrocuted in Sebastian County late Wednesday after he allegedly tried to steal copper from an old concrete plant, and deputies are looking for a suspect in the attempted theft.

Robert Ben Sizemore, 38, of Stilwell, Okla., was found dead at an old Twin Cities Ready Mix concrete plant off Old Highway 271 South about 10:43 p.m., according to a news release from Maj. Kevin Nickson with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Paul Cradduck

Steven Ray Cavenee

One Dead, One Injured in Attempted Copper Theft Near Calumet
March 11, 2012 | NewsOn6.com
CANADIAN COUNTY, Oklahoma – An attempted theft at an oil field in rural Canadian County ends with one man dead and another in critical condition. According to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, 30-year-old Steven Ray Cavenee and 22-year-old Michael Paul Cradduck were attempting to steal copper off an oil pump located at 122nd Street N.W. and North Heaston Road near Calumet.

Electric cooperatives battling copper thefts
September 11, 2011
Soaring metal prices have been blamed for an increase in thefts of copper and aluminum, primary components of electric distribution lines. Recent thefts of copper wire and equipment from electric utilities have been responsible for power outages, additional maintenance and expenses, diminished service reliability, and, in some cases, serious injury or death.

Man gets murder charge after Okla. copper theft death
June 14, 2011
DRUMRIGHT — A felony murder charge has been filed against a 19-year-old Drumright resident for his alleged involvement in an attempt to steal copper that led to the death of an accomplice. Police say 18-year-old Cody Holland was electrocuted May 26 during an attempt to steal copper from a transformer. Jacob Lee Matherly was charged Friday with felony murder. State law allows for a murder charge if a person is killed during the commission of a felony.

In April 2008, five tornado warning sirens in Jackson, Miss., failed to warn citizens of an approaching tornado because copper thieves had rendered the sirens inoperable.
~ Daily O’Collegian, Oklahoma State University

Copper pipes stolen from Student Union basement
ocolly.com – June 6, 2011
Copper culprits have been hard at work as of late, and the Student Union basement is a recent victim of their handiwork. The Oklahoma State University Police Department responded to a report of theft of copper pipe from the Student Union around 8:30 a.m. Friday, according to a release.

Shad MillsCourtesy KFOR NewsChannel 4
Shad Mills, 40, was in the middle of pulling down a power pole when it snapped and caught fire. Lawmen say the suspected copper thief was shocked to death.

Thief electrocuted stealing copper
March 3, 2011
LINDSAY, Okla. — A suspected thief is shocked to death after an unusual attempted copper theft. Lawmen say 40-year-old Shad Mills was in middle of pulling down a power pole when it snapped and caught fire.

 

Thieves take copper theft to new heights
June 8, 2010
EDMOND, OK — Copper theft is nothing new. But recently, crooks have gone to new heights to steal the valuable metal. There have been several reports of thieves getting into cell phone tower sites and raiding hundreds of feet of copper. Over the weekend, Justin Tyner, Eric Selby and Jason Sanders were arrested in Canadian County. An alert Deputy spotted a suspicious car in a rural area and pulled over the driver.

 

Damon Schmidt

Man dies in suspected copper theft
August 27, 2008 | www.news9.com

DEL CITY, Okla. -Authorities said they may charge property owners after a man was electrocuted at an apartment complex Tuesday while trying to steal copper.

The incident happened near SE 29 and Sooner Road at an abandoned apartment building where electricity was still flowing. Del City police are considering filing negligent homicide charges against the owners.

The body of the 32-year-old Damon Schmidt was found near a transformer box at the Kristie Manor North Apartments. Investigators believe he got zapped with at least 7200 volts of electricity.

Man Electrocuted Stealing Copper Identified: Damon Schmidt, 32, Killed With 7,000 Volts of Electricity
August 27, 2008
DEL CITY, Okla. — Police have identified the man electrocuted while trying to steal copper on Tuesday, officers said. Damon Schmidt, 32, of Oklahoma City, had been arrested several times since 2003, according to officials with the Oklahoma County jail. A Del City police spokesman said his office is still investigating Tuesday’s incident. Schmidt’s body was found near an electrical box at 29th Street and Sooner Road on Tuesday morning. Police said the man’s father found him and that the man had burns on his hands.

Police nab copper bandits
April 23, 2008 — McAlester News-Capital
By Jeremy Higgins, Assistant Editor
Two people were arrested and at least one will face felony charges related to the theft of a large amount of copper wire from PSO/AEP on East Electric Avenue in McAlester, according to the McAlester Police Department.

Oregon

Thief tries steal copper wire, gets electrocuted | KATU.com – Portland, Oregon
August 8, 2013
LYONS, Ore. – A man who broke into an abandoned plywood mill was killed while trying to steal some copper wire. The body of 36-year-old Dustin Joe Harris of Lyons was discovered Tuesday afternoon inside a building on Lyons-Mill City Drive that used to be the Young & Morgan mill.

Companies fight back against rising copper theft
May 17, 2011
Farms and other businesses in rural Marion County are seeing an uptick in copper theft, despite the Oregon Legislature’s amendment of the scrap-metal law last year. The law makes it harder for thieves to sell copper and other metals to recyclers.

Money, money, money in the wires….
With copper going for around $7.00US, expect to see many creative thieves try this… Copper theft has happened in the Triangle lately…here, here, here and here.

Pennsylvania

Suspected Thief Electrocuted in Upper Merion
Sept. 13, 2014 | ABC News
UPPER MERION TWP., Pa. (WPVI) — Authorities say a suspect, allegedly attempting to steal copper, was electrocuted in Upper Merion, Montgomery County. It all began around 4:00 a.m. Saturday when a 911 caller told dispatchers that his friend may have been electrocuted.

Officers responded to the Kennedy Supplee Mansion on the 1700 block of Trooper Road inside Valley Forge National Historical Park. Upon arrival, they found a 43-year-old man unresponsive near a 4,100 volt electrical junction box. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say it appears the victim was trying to steal copper wiring from the area at the time.

Police: Man electrocuted while attempting to steal copper wire in Carbon County
Oct. 12, 2013 | WFMZ-TV 69
PALMERTON, Pa. – Police in Carbon County have released the name of the man who was electrocuted while apparently attempting to steal copper wire from poles at the old New Jersey Zinc plant in Palmerton. Police say 32-year-old Joshua Vacaro, of the 200 block of Delaware Ave. in Palmerton, was found dead Thursday afternoon at the site of the old zinc company. Police believe Vacaro, who had various tools on him, was attempting to steal copper wire.

Thieves eye Delco air conditioners
September 27, 2011 | 6abc.com
RADNOR, Pa. – September 27, 2011 (WPVI) — Police in Delaware County are trying to track down thieves who are making air conditioners a hot item on the black market.

Officer hurt in Hellertown copper theft incident
May 06, 2008
A police officer suffered a leg injury this morning in Hellertown after being dragged from the car of two suspected copper thieves.

Copper theft arrests made
By Heather Stauffer, Sentinel Reporter, April 3, 2008
Local officials hope arrests in what they describe as an interstate theft ring will reduce the number of copper and equipment thefts in the area.

Copper Theft Investigated In Scottdale
COTTDALE, Pa. — Two people were caught on camera stealing copper from the Scottdale Elementary School construction site, authorities said.

Rhode Island

Copper theft forces power cutoffs to 5,000 in R.I.
November 19, 2009
National Grid said spent Thursday cutting off power to 5,000 customers so it could replace copper ground wire stolen from its Smithfield substation, just off Route 44. The emergency repairs affected North Providence, Johnston, Smithfield and Scituate.

South Carolina

Weston, Cochran, and Wolcott (Source: CCDC)

Robert Weston, Dwayne Cochran, and Leonard Wolcott (Source: CCDC)

Police: Copper thieves caught red-handed at Mt. Pleasant hotel – Live5News.com | Charleston, SC
July 3, 2013
MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) – Mt. Pleasant police say they arrested three copper thieves and are looking for one more that ran from them at the Masters Inn on Wednesday morning.

Officers arrested 61-year-old Robert Weston, 45-year-old Dwayne Cochran, and 52-year-old Leonard Wolcott around 4 a.m. They were each charged with second-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools, and malicious damage to property.

According to a police report, an officer was patrolling Wingo Way near the Masters Inn a little before 4 a.m. because of reported copper thefts at the hotel over the past few weeks. The officer said he noticed a “dust cloud” coming from the inn so he pulled into the parking lot.

anthony-williamsCourtesy photo Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center
Anthony Williams, 39, of Columbia, SC, was electrocuted while allegedly trying to steal copper from the old Dept. of Mental Health State Hospital grounds. He was found hanging by harness about 20 feet in the air.

Coroner: Electrocuted copper thief found dangling from transformer
March 18, 2013
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) — A tourist from North Carolina taking photos of the old Department of Mental Health State Hospital grounds discovered a man who had been electrocuted while trying to steal copper, according to authorities.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said the discovery happened Sunday morning on the grounds of the old State Hospital property off of Bull Street in downtown Columbia.

Anthony Williams, 39, of Columbia was found hanging by a harness strapped to a frame holding electrical transformers approximately 20 feet in the air. It appears he was attempting to steal copper from the transformers, the coroner said.

Williams’ body may have been there for a couple of days, according to Watts.

Kiley Pennington and Charles LawsonCourtesy photo Spartanburg Co. Detention Center
Kiley Pennington and Charles Lawson

Deputies: Man shocked trying to steal copper from historic mill
January 9, 2012
SPARTANBURG, SC (AP/FOX Carolina) – Deputies said a man was shocked Sunday night while trying to steal copper from a historic Spartanburg mill. Spartanburg County Deputies said Kiley Pennington, 33, was with her boyfriend Charles Lawson, 38, at the textile mill at 5229 Clifton Glendale Rd. to steal copper when Lawson cut a live wire.

“The man had climbed up about 30 feet up in the air to cut some copper wire out and ended up cutting into some live wire, which ended up giving him quite a shock and ended up falling 30 feet to the ground below,” says Tony Ivey with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff: Copper Theft Suspect Loses Fingers, Skin
July 21, 2011
CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. — An 18-year-old from Union, S.C., who was trying to steal copper had part of his hand blown off along with the skin of one arm, according to the Cherokee County sheriff.

Police: Man out on bail for sexual assault arrested for copper theft
June 29, 2011 | WLBT-TV – by Ray Rivera
Authorities say a 38-year-old man who was out on bond for a sexual assault was arrested at a recycling center for stealing copper from a manufacturing plant in North Charleston.

Copper thefts rise in Darlington County
July 1, 2010
The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve investigated seven cases of copper theft in the past four weeks. They’ve made arrests in five of those cases and say more arrests are coming.

Frankie Sheriff family photoCourtesy photo WYFF Channel 4, Seneca, S.C.
Frankie Sheriff’s appearance changed dramatically before the 34-year-old was electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire .

Deputies: Man Electrocuted Trying To Steal Wire
November 1, 2009
SENECA, S.C. — Deputies said an accident in Oconee County uncovered a copper theft ring, but it also cost a man his life on Monday. Investigators said that the suspected thief cut the wrong wire and was electrocuted. Authorities said the body of 34-year-old Frankie Sheriff was discovered at about 11:45 p.m. by two Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative workers.

Lee County officers investigating sixth copper theft in three months
April 17, 2008
LEE COUNTY, SC (WIS) – In Lee County, a copper thief was caught on tape. And authorities are trying to figure out the identity of the mystery man who stole about $3,000 in copper. “My daughter told me he looked like the Lizard Man!” says Marty Atkinson of Carolina Industrial.

House bill would crack down on state’s copper thieves
April 9, 2008 | By Ishmael Tate and Lee Higgins · The (Columbia) State
COLUMBIA — A bill on its way to the S.C. House floor would crack down on the theft and illegal resale of copper and other valuable metals, a practice that police say is on the rise.

South Dakota

Thieves Steal $6,000 worth of copper pipe
SIOUX FALLS — The theft of 500 to 600 pounds of copper pipe valued at $6,000 was reported at a Sioux Falls construction site.

Tennessee

Viola FarnsworthCourtesy photo WKRN-TV NEWS 2 NASHVILLE
36-year-old Viola Farnsworth was electrocuted and killed while she and three men tried to steal copper wire inside the Carl Black Chevrolet building in Nashville.

Woman, stealing copper wire, dies from electrocution
September 11, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A woman was killed while trying to steal copper wire early Friday morning, according to police. The incident happened around 12 Midnight inside the former Carl Black Chevrolet building on Murfreesboro Road in south Nashville.

Police said the woman, 36-year-old Viola Farnsworth, and three males were taking the copper wire when Farnsworth touched a live wire and was electrocuted.

Courtesy photo WKRN-TV NEWS 2 NASHVILLE
Curtis Crawford, Francis Cunningham and Joseph Salisbury were arrested and charged following Viola Farnsworth’s death. The four were trying to steal copper when Farnsworth was electrocuted.

Afterwards, the men, identified as Curtis Crawford, 28, Francis Cunningham, 20, and Joseph Salisbury, 28, immediately fled the building. They were pulled over a short time later after an officer noticed a car driving without its headlights. Burglary tools and copper wire were located inside the car and police said all three men admitted to the break-in.

Farnsworth’s body was discovered a short time later.

Three arrested in Meigs copper theft
DECATUR, Tenn. — Three people have been charged in the copper theft from a power station that cut power to 90 percent of the county, authorities said this afternoon. Chad Parker, of Meigs County, and Tommy Fugate, of Athens, are charged with reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing and vandalism of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000, Meigs County Detective Keith Kyle said. VEC spokesman Robert McCarty said the thieves may have damaged a transformer at the substation that would cost $200,000 to replace.

Texas

Suspected Copper Thief Found Dead Near Spring Power Substation
October 24, 2012
One man is dead after Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies say he was trying to steal copper from a power substation. Around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, deputies were sent to South Montgomery County. Employees with Center Point received a service call to the electrical substation and when they arrived they found a dead white male. Investigators believe Harold Gene Schneider, 37, was electrocuted in the process of stealing copper wiring.

Family dog shot and killed after Fort Worth police officer responds to wrong house after copper theft call
May 27, 2012
Fort Worth, Texas — Cindy and Mark Boling are trying to understand why their dog, Lillie, a Border collie mix they’ve had for five years is now dead — shot and killed in their own yard by a Fort Worth police officer.

“He literally has ripped our hearts out,” Cindy Boling said.

Saturday afternoon, the couple had just returned home from shopping and was unloading their truck. The back gate was open and Lillie and the couple’s other dog, Gracie, were in the driveway with them. The couple says a Fort Worth police officer showed up and was walking toward the house. The dogs went to meet him.

“I started yelling ‘my dogs don’t bite please don’t hurt them. They’re going to come down and just greet you and I’ll grab them up and put them in the backyard,'” Boling said.

Mark caught up to Gracie but Lillie ran up on the porch where the officer was standing. They say within seconds the officer pulled out his pistol and shot Lillie in the back.

“My dog was standing there looking like I got a new friend and he turned and shot her in the back,” Mark Boling said.

The dog ran to the backyard where she died within minutes.

The officer was at the house by mistake. He was sent to 4917 Norma Street on a copper theft call. But instead, he showed up two blocks away at the Boling’s address, which is 4717.

A suspected copper thief believed to have stolen copper from a Centerpoint (TX) station in Oct. 2011. (Courtesy photo KUHF Houston)

Caught In The Act of Copper TheftNovember 18, 2011
Surveillance photos were released of a man suspected of stealing copper wire from a CenterPoint Energy power plant on Tomball Parkway last month. When police arrived, they discovered the fence had been cut and copper wire and parts had been stolen.

Deputy falls off shopping center roof while searching for copper theft suspectsJuly 8, 2010
HOUSTON—A deputy fell off the roof of a shopping center Wednesday night while looking for a copper theft suspect. Harris County deputies were called to the scene at Uvalde and Holly Park around 9:30 p.m. by security guards who said a man and a woman were stealing copper from an empty H-E-B store.

New Database Combats Texas Copper theft
April 11, 2008
DALLAS, TX — Stealing copper from air conditioning units, construction sites, even highway lights is a big problem, according to Dallas police Lt. Richard Dwyer, who heads the Department’s metal theft unit.

Man Arrested For Copper Theft
April 9, 2008
Longview — Michael Wayne Nickerson, 52, of Longview was arrested and charged with Theft of Wire/Cable containing 50% Aluminum, Bronze, or Copper under $20,000 which is a State Jail Felony.

Oncor Fights Back Against Copper Wire Theft
Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:21am EST
DALLAS–(Business Wire)–Copper theft is a community problem that is continuing to grow. Thieves have stolen air conditioners out of churches, equipment of out schools and wiring out of streetlights. Oncor, with its miles of distribution and transmission lines, is also a target for these thieves.

Man Electrocuted in Copper Theft
December 22, 2006
A Longview man was electrocuted during an apparent copper theft, in what investigators say is rapidly growing crime. It happened Thursday afternoon on Meadows lane, just off I-20 in Gregg county. Investigators say two men were trying to cut the copper from a power pole, when one of them contacted a live wire, and was electrocuted.

Utah

Police are looking for thieves who stole a bronze statue from Saratoga Springs. The statue was valued at $4,000 and depicted a young mother who was killed by a massive natural gas explosion in 2007. Courtesy photo

Thieves steal statue depicting woman killed in gas explosion
November 2, 2011
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After a massive natural gas explosion killed a young wife and mother in 2007, the community rallied together. Through an Eagle Scout project funds were raised, and eventually local artist John Zebley created a bronze statue depicting the woman. But now, that statue has vanished. Police say the 18-inch statue disappeared from a stone pedestal in a Saratoga Springs subdivision sometime between Oct. 12 and 15. It was reported missing on Oct. 19, and metal thieves are likely to blame, according to Detective Bruce Champagne of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.

Bill to help prevent copper theft; recyclers say it misses the mark
October 7, 2008
In the past couple of years, copper has become a favorite target for crooks, but a Utah senator is trying to get a law passed that would make scrap yards more responsible. The latest copper theft happened at a baseball field in Kearns. Whoever stole this copper really wanted it. The person had to cut into several light poles, yank the copper wire down, slice it and haul it off.
Related: HATCH, KLOBUCHAR UNVEIL COPPER THEFT PREVENTION ACT OF 2008

Vermont

Chuck Carr, Ryan Towns, Callie Field & Tom Longstreth on scrap metal recycling, sales & theft
Thursday April 24, 2008
If you bring a piece of copper into a scrap metal dealer today, you’ll likely receive around $3.00 per pound. That’s up substantially from the 75cents per pound you might have received four years ago. Prices for other types of scrap metal, from aluminum to steel, are also up. But with the boom in business, comes a rising amount of theft. As a result, the Vermont Senate has passed a bill that would require scrap dealers to check identification and keep detailed sale records.

Virginia

Richmond Police Department: Man killed in wreck had just fled scene of copper theft
November 13, 2012
Police believe a man that was killed Saturday in a single-vehicle accident had just stolen copper from a vacant Richmond factory and fled the scene after a witness called police. James M. Ward, 40, of McKee, died at 11:17 a.m. after his car ran left the southbound lane of Interstate 75 near mile marker 84 and traveled about 200 feet down an embankment before crashing into a rocky ravine, according to the Kentucky State Police and the Madison County coroner.

Man pleads guilty to charges surrounding copper theft
July 6, 2011
FRONT ROYAL — A town man pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court after being indicted by a grand jury on three charges related to the theft of copper from the town’s electric department.

MAN ELECTROCUTED WHILE TRYING TO STEAL COPPER
July 29, 2010
Charges are pending after Buchanan County authorities say they caught a man attempting to steal copper Tuesday night. They actually received a 911 call that a man was hanging from an AEP power pole in Harman, Virginia. Once they arrived, they found 52-year-old Ervin Hardin on a transformer. He had been electrocuted and is now at a burn unit in a hospital in Huntington, West Virginia.

Washington

Copper Thieves Now Targeting Vacant Commercial Buildings
July 1, 2011
Copper and metal thieves have found a new target: vacant commercial buildings. The graffiti-painted buildings with the “For Lease” signs are an invitation to the bad guys, and Everett police worry it’s just the beginning.

Copper theft freezes Washington state bridge in placeDecember 16, 2010
Copper thieves ransacked the powerhouse atop the Murray Morgan Bridge around Thanksgiving, causing between $250,000 and $300,000 in damage and dealing a heavy blow to the City of Tacoma’s effort to repair and reopen the historic structure.

West Virginia

Police: W.Va. man electrocuted by live power line in attempted copper theft
May 9, 2013 | The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic
THURMOND, West Virginia — Police in Fayette County said Thursday that a man was electrocuted when he picked up a live power line that he had shot down in order to steal copper from it. Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler said the man’s body was found Wednesday in Thurmond near Babcock State Park. He was identified Thursday as 22-year-old Dalton Newhouse of Oak Hill.

Kessler said Newhouse and an accomplice (Charles Raymond Norris, 22, of Oak Hill) planned to strip the line of its copper wiring to later sell as scrap metal. Newhouse was killed instantly when he picked up the power line, Kessler said.

Norris was later arrested and charged with Attempt to Commit a Felony, Conspiracy to Commit a Felony and Disruption of a Public Utility. (WTRF)

State Police Dig Deeper into Electrocuted Man’s Death
December 2, 2012 | WSAZ NewsChannel 3
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — West Virginia State Police are discovering more about the death of James David Marcum Jr. – a 28-year-old man who was electrocuted while attempting to steal copper wire.

Marcum’s body was found Saturday on a hillside near Omar off of Route 44 after he had been missing for three-and-a-half days. He was initially believed to have gone hunting.

Troopers say they believe Marcum wasn’t alone when he was electrocuted, and they’re in the process of questioning individuals who could have been with him. They also say the power lines on that hillside were targeted by others in the past.

Boone Man Electrocuted During Attempted Copper Theft Near Mine
April 24, 2012
BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A man from Boone County is dead after investigators believe he was trying to steal wire off of a utility pole near a coal mine. According to a news release, the body of Herbert Ray Price, Jr., 37, of Gordon, was found lying on a hillside near a utility pole.

What’s next?
July 22, 2011
Despite the hazards, it seems like metal thieves will stop at absolutely nothing to steal copper, aluminum or other items they can sell off for money.

Steve Lupson II (Courtesy Tributes.com)Courtesy photo Tributes.com
Steven E. Lupson II, 26, died May 16, 2011, while trying to steal copper. His widow, Felicia Lupson, and Joshua Drake were serving as lookouts while Steven stole the copper, and have been charged in his death.

Widow Charged After Deadly Copper Theft
June 1, 2011 | WSAZ NewsChannel 3
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — The widow of a man who police say died while trying to steal copper is facing charges.

Felicia Lupson was arrested back on May 26 in Logan County.

West Virginia State Troopers say she was with her husband Steven, when he was trying to steal copper from a power pole on May 16.

Felicia has been charged with grand larceny and destruction of property and conspiracy.

Joshua Drake has also been charged in the case.

State police say Drake and Felicia were serving as look outs while Steven stole the copper.

W. Va. man found electrocuted near utility pole
May 17, 2011 | The Associated Press
BLAIR, W.Va. (AP) — State Police say a Charleston man apparently was trying to steal copper from a power pole in Logan County when he was electrocuted.

State Police tell WSAZ-TV that an officer investigating the theft found the body of 26-year-old Steven E. Lupson II next to a utility pole along state Route 17 in Blair.

American Electric Power: Copper theft dangerous, deadly
July 14, 2010 | News and Sentinel
MARIETTA – American Electric Power is using recent deaths and the sentencing of two men in Washington County to help deter would-be copper thieves. The local case involved two Chapmanville, W.Va., men who admitted to stealing more than 14,000 feet of power line cables in the Lowell area, and disrupting electric service for several hours.

The cable cost AEP $28,162 to replace, including labor. The scrap value of the metal was about $3,000.

Four people have been killed while attempting to steal copper wire in the Columbus, Ohio-based electric utility’s service area. State police say two people were killed in southern West Virginia. The other deaths occurred near Chillicothe, Ohio, and in Harrisonburg, Va., AEP spokesman Phil Moye said.

The most recent incident occurred last week in Boone County, W.Va., state police say the body of Harold Holstein, 42, was discovered by a power company worker who had responded to an outage in the area. Another man was injured.

A Ross County man was killed June 26 while he was attempting to steal copper grounding wire from a substation near Clarksburg, Ohio, according to AEP. On June 6, a Bruno, W.Va., man was killed while attempting to take grounding wire from a pole in Logan County, W.Va.

Stealing copper wire risky, says American Electric Power, with four deaths in 2010July 9, 2010
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — American Electric Power is blaming increasingly brazen thefts by copper thieves targeting power lines for a series of fatal accidents in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.

Morris Michael Dale Goodman, 27, passed away June 6, 2010 after attempting to steal copper wires. He left behind many family members.

Morris Goodman Obituary
June 6, 2010 | Logan Banner | Christian, W. Virginia
CHRISTIAN, W.Va. — Morris Michael Dale Goodman, 37, of Christian, passed away Sunday, June 6, 2010

Daniel and Jack Chapman (courtesy WSAZ)

Father & Son Electrocuted at AEP Substation
March 28, 2008
PRENTER, W.Va. (WSAZ) — The Boone County Sheriff says a father and son died late Friday night after they were electrocuted inside an AEP substation. It happened at about 11:15pm in Prenter — about five miles up from Route 3.

Sheriff Miller said 22-year-old Daniel Chapman of Seth and another man went to the Hopkins Fork power substation with the intent to steal copper. Miller says the two cut a hole in the chain link fence around the substation and then tried to cut and remove a series of grounding wire that protected the facility.

According to Miller, both men came into contact with power from the substation — Chapman was electrocuted and the man who was with him was burned, but was able to escape and go get help.

Once he was notified of the incident, Daniel Chapman’s father, Jack Chapman, 48, went to the facility and tried to free his son. Witnesses tell police that when Jack was unable to free Daniel, his frustration led him to also come in contact with live power cables. Both died at the scene.

Wisconsin

Copper Theft Arrests
WEAU-TV 13 – Eau Claire, WI
Deputies say employees at a scrap metal shop helped catch two men who are now charged with stealing copper wire from the railroad.

Wyoming

2 Men Accused of Copper Theft in Natrona County
KULR8 – Dec. 20, 2010
Casper, Wyo. (AP) — Natrona County authorities say two men are accused of trying to steal several thousand dollars worth of copper wire from a Mills company.

FBI

Copper theft ring awaiting jail time
NetworkWorld.com Community
Copper theft is an epidemic crime across the nation and the world. Police in some states have reported that thieves are now targeting the growing amounts of empty, foreclosed houses to steal copper wiring. Of course, not all criminals are the brightest bulbs; some have been killed or maimed pulling out live wires. I reported last year that there was a growing movement by telecommunications vendors to offer rewards leading to the arrest of copper thieves.

Copper Theft Threatens U.S. Critical Infrastructure
Copper thieves are threatening US critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits. The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services and presents a risk to both public safety and national security.

AFRICA

A dead copper wire theft suspect is carried away from the crime scene. Courtesy photo Jabulisa Dlamini, Times of Swaziland

Copper wire thief electrocuted!
Sept. 21, 2012 | Times of Swaziland
MANZINI – A man was electrocuted while attempting to steal a copper wire from an electricity pole at Woodmasters early yesterday morning.

Residents of Woodmasters are said to have encountered a blackout at around 3am yesterday and when they called the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) faults line, the company’semployees who were on call rushed to check what might have caused. When the employees arrived at scene they discovered a body of man believed to be in his mid thirties lying near the powerline pole.

AUSTRALIA

Australia’s new crime wave
March 6, 2008 | The Scone Advocate
After working on an empty house he is preparing to sell, 80 year-old Earl Thelander goes home to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

CANADA

Sky-high copper prices fuel surging theft problem: Thieves after valuable metal are willing to risk their lives while causing outages, costly repairs
Aug. 29, 2014 | CBC News, cbc.ca
This week Toronto police arrested a man they allege broke into seven Hydro One power stations, risking his life to steal cables and cash in on the sky-high value of copper.

But the man’s arrest likely won’t make a dent in a surging copper theft problem that costs Hydro One about $2 million a year and is prompting the utility to phase out pure copper in favour of cheaper metals that are less attractive to thieves.

Lori Anne Gardner, a security specialist with Hydro One, said stolen copper cables cause power outages and lead to costly damage. But more troubling is that copper thieves risk electrocution, not only for themselves but for employees working at hydro stations around the province.

“Its surprises me every time that people would break in and steal from our live structures,” she told CBC News. In many cases the cabling is pulled from high-voltage lines. “A few inches higher and lower can be their lives,” she said.

Steven Shepel, electrocuted

Steven Shepel, electrocuted (courtesy globalnews.ca)

Electrocution deemed accidental
Oct. 10, 2013 | Globalnews.ca
KELOWNA — A  coroner’s investigation has determined the death of a copper thief was accidental and there are no suggestions to prevent further such incidents.

In April 2012,  a badly injured Steven Ray Brodie Shepel, 35, was found in a remote, wooded area of Kelowna. Shepel had been removing copper ground wires from hydro poles when one of the wires came in close contact to the 138,000 volt power line.

Copper thief sentenced to 15 years in security guard killing
May 29, 2013 | Privateofficernews.com
Montreal Canada – A man who killed a security guard while stealing copper near Thetford Mines  was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday. Eddy Rivest received the sentence after pleading guilty to a reduced charge  of manslaughter after killing Roland Hardy at a mine near  Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine.

Hardy’s colleagues found him dead on July 23, 2010 at the abandoned Normandy  asbestos mine on Vimy Rd. in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec. Rivest, after time served, will see his sentence end in 13 years and eight  months. He will no longer have the right to own a firearm for the rest of his  life.
Roland HardyCourtesy photo Radio-Canada
Roland Hardy was on duty at the Normandie mine in July 2010 when he was killed. Investigators believe Hardy surprised thieves looking to steal copper from the mine.

Arrest made in mine guard killing
February 8, 2012 | CBCNews, Montreal
A 44-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the 2010 slaying of a mine guard. The victim, Roland Hardy, 51, was on duty at the Normandie mine in Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine on the evening of July 23.

Charges Laid in $1 Million Copper Theft
June 15, 2011 | Toronto Sun
A group of Hamilton-area men face a slew of charges for allegedly stealing about $1 million in copper from dozens of hydro facilities in Southern Ontario.

INDIA

Truck driver killed for copper scrap, body found on seat: Two persons allegedly killed their 45-year-old colleague at north Delhis’ Kashmere Gate to steal copper scrap being transported by him.
April 9, 2014 | Deccan Herald
New Delhi — They had laced his soft drink with sedatives and fed him pills to make him unconscious before strangling him.

The accused were arrested on Tuesday.

The victim Naresh, a resident of south-west Delhi’s Sagarpur, was the owner and driver of a mini-truck and used the vehicle to transport scrap. On Monday, he was asked by Jatin Gupta, owner of a scrap godown in Mayapuri, to deliver copper scrap to Harsh Vihar in north-east Delhi.

JAPAN

Bloomberg.com : Japan
Copper rises to Highest in Almost Four Months on Chinese Demand
April 2 (Bloomberg) — Copper prices in New York rose to the highest in almost four months on speculation demand will climb in China, the world’s biggest user of the metal.

LEBANON

Head of Copper Thieves Admits to Killing Old Man in Southern Lebanon
March 7, 2013 | Naharnet.com
The Syrian head of a gang that steals copper wires from electricity cables in southern Lebanon was arrested and admitted to killing an old man in the town of Qana, the state-run National News Agency reported Thursday. NNA said that the Syrian suspect Bassel al-Ahmed admitted to killing Moussa Badreddine in his shop along with several other suspects while robbing him. Badreddine, 81, was found dead in his shop in August last year.

MALAYSIA

Static State
One day after I blogged about copper theft, some jokers decided that they needed some steel bolts and stole some from a 132kV power transmission tower (or “Pylons” as we Malaysians call them). This brought one of the towers down resulting in a loss of electrical power to 90% of the areas in Sabah. Imagine nearly a whole State brought to a standstill by a single act of theft!

SCOTLAND

Team is on track to halt copper theft
October 31, 2008
A SPECIAL police squad has been formed to target thieves responsible for a spate of copper cable thefts from Scotland’s railway lines. British Transport Police (BTP) drafted in their most experienced officers to investigate a huge rise in crimes involving valuable metals.

Courtesy photo Sowetan Live
CHAOS: The body of an unidentified man is removed from the Roodepoort substation after the alleged cable thief was electrocuted. The entire Roodepoort area was left without power. PHOTO: BAFANA MAHLANGU.

SOUTH AFRICA

Man electrocuted while allegedly trying to steal copper cable at City Power Johannesburg’s Roodepoort substation
Sept. 8, 2012 | Sowetan Live, South Africa
City Power officials discovered the man’s body and the tools he supposedly used to break into the substation. The man had already removed two batteries and a copper cable before the fire broke out, causing damage of about R10-million, City Power said. A second substation about 800m away was also affected, interrupting power supply in the Roodepoort area from about 7am yesterday morning.

Gautrain fails to live up to promises
September 8, 2011
Twice in one week last month the train ground to a halt because cable thieves managed to make off with copper cables supplying the train.

Copperheads find new task team ‘incompetent’
While a private security company which took over Telkom’s copper cable theft probes last month from specialised investigators in Cape Town said it was handling the job “very well”, the city said it was “impossible” to work with the “incompetent” security guards.

Copper market drives theft
Johannesburg, 17 August 2007 – The rate of cable theft is on the rise again, driven by a lucrative reprocessing market both locally and internationally, says Telkom.

Jobs are safe, says Telkom
Gauteng, South Africa
Some of the services Royal Securities will provide include proactively alarming critical cable routes, using armed guards, deploying wireless alternatives to copper, burying cables where possible, working with Business Against Crime, and engaging government in order to facilitate more solutions to the copper theft problem.

UNITED KINGDOM

Cable thief who acted out shock killed by 8,000 volts
March 16, 2012 | Yorkshire Post
A TEENAGE boy who was trying to steal copper cable pretended he was being electrocuted just moments before it happened for real, killing him instantly, as his horrified friends watched. Ryan Woolams, 16, “paid the ultimate price” when he was hit by an electric shock while trying to steal cable from an electricity sub-station at Skelton Grange in Stourton, Leeds, an inquest heard.

Video: Bungalow destroyed as metal thieves cause gas explosion
March 15, 2012 | The Evening Telegraph
Tuesday, 9.35am: Metal thieves are responsible for a gas explosion which destroyed a bungalow near Wisbech in the early hours of on Monday morning (12 March). The explosion in the empty bungalow on St Leonard’s Road, Leverington, near Wisbech, ripped the front and roof off the property when a gas leak ignited at around 1.05am. The bungalow was being renovated, and thieves broke in over the weekend to steal the piping, which caused the leak.

Brassed off: Band treasurer Neil Palmer with the remains of his stolen trumpet

Gary Lawton

Metal thief killed by 33,000-volt shock as he tries to steal copper from electricity substation
January 18, 2012
A metal thief was killed by a 33,000-volt shock as he tried to steal copper from an electricity substation, an inquest heard. Father-of-three Gary Lawton, 46, was left for dead by at least one accomplice after being injured.

Thief stole £18,000 of brass band’s instruments for just £61 scrap… and here’s all that’s left of the trumpet
November 23, 2011
For more than a century, the Pontardulais Town Band has played its rousing and sometimes mournful brass music to accompany key moments in its Welsh community’s history. When tearful families waved off the young men boarding trains to go to fight in World War I, the band was in place on the station platform to ensure the event did not pass without suitably solemn music.

Poster warns of ‘double danger’ facing Metro copper thieves
November 22, 2011
Guerilla Communications has created a hard-hitting poster campaign warning of the severe dangers facing those who steal cables from Metro lines in the North East.

Woman plunges 20ft into sewer after metal thieves ‘steal drain cover to sell for scrap’
November 17, 2011
A woman ‘had a lucky escape’ when she plunged 20ft into a sewer after thieves stole a drain cover. The woman, who has not been named, suffered only cuts and bruises after dropping into the darkness in Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham, West Sussex.

Thief killed trying to steal copper wire from pylon
November 15, 2011
A coroner hit out at the scourge of metal theft after a man was killed when an aluminium ladder placed against a pylon touched a live electricity cable. Darren Wayne Law, 42, was hit by a 6,600-volt electrical surge and died later in hospital.

Stealing the roof of the house of God
October 29, 2011
Thieves completely strip the roof off All Saints, Woodchurch, a 14th-century church in a picture-postcard village in rural East Kent. The day before, horses at a riding school in Lancashire bolted after a scrap metal gang stole the stable doors. The day before that, thieves stole 64 sq ft of lead from the flat roof at Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln, one of the most significant medieval ecclesiastical ruins in England. Last Monday they stole a 4ft-high statue of a Second World War soldier worth £10,000 from a war memorial in Tidworth, Wilts.

Courtesy photo Daily Mail
Burnt to death: Callous copper cable thieves cut down a pylon leaving live wires exposed before using a six month old foal as a ‘tester’ to check if electricity was still moving through the line.

Foal electrocuted by heartless cable thieves who tested live wires on it
October 8, 2011
Copper cable thieves who cut down a pylon leaving live wires exposed may have used a foal as a ‘tester’ to check if electricity was still moving through the line. The burnt remains of the six-month old animal were discovered in its field near Sittingbourne, Kent the next day by its owner who is in his eighties. After the incident, around 3,000 homes were plunged into darkness as the criminals took stole the copper cabling cutting the electricity supply.

Thief risked life stealing power cable
September 12, 2011
A FOOLHARDY thief could have been killed after stealing copper wire from an 11,000 volt electricity pole in Sedlescombe. Sometime on August 18, some copper earthing wire was taken from the pole in Beech Farm Road.

Courtesy photo Daily Mail Reporter
Jason (left) and John Tusting left their friend to die as they ran from a substation where they had stolen copper cable. The brothers were sentenced to four years in jail.

Heartless thieves who abandoned body of friend after he was electrocuted as they stole electric cables are jailed for four years

Courtesy photo Daily Mail Reporter
James Smith, 28, suffered a fatal shock inside an electricity substation. After friends abandoned him, his body lay undiscovered in a railway substation in southeast London for more than two hours after his death.

August 15, 2011
Two brothers who left their friend to die when he was electrocuted as they stole copper cable, have been jailed for four years. John and Jason Tusting sold the metal for £340 within hours of father-of-two James Smith, 28, suffering a fatal shock inside an electricity substation. His body lay undiscovered in a railway substation near Sydenham Railway Station, in southeast London, for more than two hours after his death on December 4 last year.

Boy electrocuted in “metal theft attempt’ in Leeds
July 5, 2011 – BBC
A boy has been electrocuted during a suspected attempt to steal copper cable at a disused Leeds power station.

Dedicated Police Task-Force Set to Combat Rise in Scrap Mental Crime
June 20, 2011 | PRWEB.COM Newswire
Eccles, Greater Manchester — The Police Review has announced that metal theft is the fastest growing crime in the UK, with annual industry damage estimated at £360 million and steadily increasing; roofs, mild steel tubing, man-hole covers and statues have all been targeted as a result.

Courtesy photo Yorkshire Post
James Sorby, 22, was badly burnt when he tried to steal copper cabling from an electricity sub-station in a disused post office sorting room.

Copper cable theft surges 168 % in last year
June 9, 2011 | Wales Times
Wales is experiencing a surge in copper cable theft, with thieves targeting railway lines, electricity cables and even theme parks. But according to historian Dr Chris Evans, of the University of Glamorgan, cable theft is no new trend.

Electrocuted cable thief says: Learn from my mistakes
June 8, 2011 | Yorkshire Post
A man who suffered horrific injuries when he was hit by a 22,000 volt electric shock has warned others of the dangers of stealing copper cabling. James Sorby, 22, was so badly burnt his daughter was unable to recognise his face after he was injured when he tried to steal cabling from an electricity sub-station in a disused post office sorting room.

Deaths and disruption as price rise sees copper thefts soar
March 19, 2008
With Chinese market fueling demand, thieves target signal wire, piping in homes, and even bronze statues.

Don’t be so stupid
GazetteLive – Middlesbrough,UK
Earlier this month, CE Electric UK announced that it had invested £2m on improving security at substations as a response to the rising rate of copper theft.

ZIMBABWE

A Zimbabwe copper thief was electrocuted by a 66,000 volt power line along Airport Road just out of Bulawayo on Aug. 21, 2014. (Courtesy News24zim.com)

A Zimbabwe copper thief was electrocuted by a 66,000 volt power line along Airport Road just out of Bulawayo on Aug. 21, 2014. (Courtesy News24zim.com)

Cable Thief Electrocuted By 66K Power Line
August 22, 2014 | News24zim.com

A suspected copper cable thief was electrocuted by a 66,000 volt power line along Airport Road just out of Bulawayo on August 21, 2014. The incident happened about 10km from the city in the early hours of the morning. Police have yet to identify the man who was reportedly fried to a crisp by the 66KV line that Zesa technicians said had the capacity to provide electricity for the whole of Bulawayo.

People gathered at the scene told Chronicle the suspected cable thief’s partners in crime fled, leaving his body behind. They said farmers in surrounding plots were facing challenges of unscheduled power cuts due to prevalent cable theft.

“The man’s body was a blackened stump that kept disintegrating as police tried to put it into their metal coffin. It is possible that if they do not handle it properly, it will be dust by the time they get it to the morgue,” said Moses Moyo.

Add a Comment

6 Responses to The Copper Theft Epidemic

  1. air conditioner repair Dallas TX says:

    It is very alarming that the stealing of AC units is very rampant all over the country. The same is true in other parts of the world. As responsible owners, we must do our best to protect our units from this very unlawful act.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Thank you for your comment, and you are absolutely right. Just two days ago, the Aston Park Health Care Center in West Asheville (NC) reported that outages causes by copper thieves were no longer just nuisances, but matters of safety. What’s unfortunate is that all too often, the thieves are only “caught” per se (stopped for good) when identified post mortem. Homeowners really do need to take a proactive stance to defend both property and lives. All best, Jody

  2. STOP COPPER THEFT___ install devices like the CopperWatcher

  3. STOP COPPER THEFT INSTALL A PRODUCT CALLED COPPERWATCHER

  4. Arvina Copeland says:

    My next door neighbor and another local criminal were caught about 5 weeks ago by a Bartholomew County, Indiana deputy stealing copper from a farmer’s irrigation system. They were held 48 hours and released. They have not been charged. And the …………..goes on.

  5. Ashley says:

    All rampant theft comes back to money. There has to be some scrapyard or scrapyards within an hour, maybe two, where they are selling the goods at. Bust the scrapyard, cut off the money supply and the copper thefts stop. That happened here and it was astonishing how fast those thefts stopped. However, burglaries are more rampant as a result and the theft of firearms and jewelry has increased. You can cut off one market, but those disposed to commit crimes will revert to other thefts. And don’t think it’s to provide for families, it’s mostly to feed whatever addiction they may have.

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