$1,000 reward offered for information on copper thefts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to arrests and convictions concerning copper wire thefts.  

Craighead Electric CEO Brian Duncan said the thefts cost the company a substantial amount of money and put the public and Craighead Electric employees in danger.
"The minimum damage that can occur is an outage, which could possible affect thousands of people," he said.

Monty Williams with Craighead Electric said in some cases the thefts could increase the cost of utilities.


"If they do cut the right wire, it can create an issue in people's homes where it could have higher voltage because our equipment's not operating correctly."

He also said thieves fail to realize how they are putting their own lives at risk.


"There are some lines that got over 14,000 volts on it," Williams said. "If they're climbing the poles or up cutting this wire, they're taking their own life in their own hands."


Williams said the thefts from the poles have increased in the past few years, with two happening in the past three months.


The Craighead County Sheriff's Department is investigating the most recent incident a Craighead Electric employee said occurred "between July 13, 2012, and July 16, 2012," in Goobertown, Brookland.


Craighead Electric reported 1,244 feet of copper wire stolen, valued at $1,500.


In the first incident, reported April 2, 2012, an employee told police 8,553 feet of wire was missing from Craighead County Road 246 and Craighead County Road 255.


"The copper prices have been going up steadily and that just makes it more for them to make a little bit more money," said Williams.


Sheriff's deputies say the increase is county wide. From January 1 to July 31, 2012, the Sheriff's Department reported 11 incidents of stolen copper wire from businesses and individuals, compared to 18 reports in 2011, three in 2010 and two in 2009 during the same timeframe.


The Jonesboro Police Department reported six incidents in 2012, nine in 2011, three in 2010 and five in 2009 from January 1 to July 31, 2012.


Williams urges anyone who sees any suspicious activity to call Craighead Electric or local law enforcement. 


"We need to catch these people before somebody gets hurt."


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