Help sought in new round of copper thefts

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is seeking informationon unknown copper thieves who have been targeting power lines.

Chief Deputy Johnny Hall said Entergy officials contacted him inrecent weeks about power lines in the Nola, Smith Lake and OldMalcom Road areas being cut down for the copper inside them.

“This is probably someone who has worked in that field,” Hallsaid, adding it would have to be someone with some idea how toclimb the poles and handle the live wires.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hall said there have been at least two incidents reported whereelectric lines were being targeted.

“We had a lead at one point, and it evaporated,” Hall said. “Wethink there are people out there who might know something aboutthis, and we’re asking for their help.”

Some area power company officials were unable to comment, andothers did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Copper scrap metal is popular on today’s scrap metal market.Brookhaven Recycling manager Jeff Stratton said his facility istaking strides to make sure employees are doing their part toprevent copper theft, which in some cases carries a grand larcenycharge.

Stratton said area recycling companies may soon be held to muchheavier standards, depending on pending legislation. At this point,his facility is already making copies of identification of anyoneselling copper or vehicles.

The new legislation would have people giving identification tosell most kinds of scrap metal, and will probably require recyclingcompanies to mail a check to those who sell the scrap metal.

“We’re already in compliance with 15 of the 19 things they wereaddressing,” Stratton said. “And I think the biggest thing thatwould affect us is holding the copper however long they want us tohold it, as well as marking and tagging it, and cuttingchecks.”

Hall said it’s highly probable that whoever is stealing thecopper in the Nola Road area may have taken it elsewhere to sell itsince area recycling plants log who they buy many things from.

Stratton said Brookhaven Recycling employees are responsible forfilling out a pawn broker’s report on things such as copper wireand piping. Those reports are readily available to law enforcementif something comes up missing.

“They have our cell phones and they’ll call us if they’relooking for something that was stolen,” Stratton said. “We can tellthem if we’ve got it, and within 15 minutes we can have them aname, address and driver’s license number on the person who soldit.”

Hall said area residents need to be on the lookout for scrapmetal thieves, even if it doesn’t seem feasible.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “If you’ve got something metal inyour yard, they’ll take it in broad daylight.”

Citizens should be cautious of cars driving by slowly, evenpossibly pulling into their driveway. He said it’s a good idea tobe especially aware of where ATVs and other such items arestored.

In the past, cellular towers have also been a favorite target ofcopper thieves, but that deputies are checking the cell towersregularly, Hall said.

“The copper is just a big thing right now,” he said.

Anyone with information on scrap metal theft of any kind isencouraged to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department at (601)833-5231 or Crimestoppers at (601) 823-0150.