East Arkansas Authorities Hope to Reduce Copper Thefts

FORREST CITY, AR - Seven east Arkansas counties are concerned about a rise in the theft of copper and other metals.  Authorities say the thefts have become an increasing burden on farmers, businessmen and homeowners.

Officials from the seven counties planned to meet to discuss ways to prevent the thefts and whether penalties for the thefts could be increased or regulations could be updated for scrap metal dealers who purchase the metals.  The group includes Crittenden, Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff counties.

St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May said he wants the state to pass a law that would require salvage yards to wait seven days before paying for scrap metal, and payment would have to be made by check through the mail to a valid address.

Thefts in Arkansas have led to the deaths of at least two people apparently trying to steal copper from live electric lines.  Last year, a St. Francis County man was killed while using a cutter mounted on a pole to remove copper from power lines.  Another man was killed in 2007 in Greene County while trying to take $10 worth of copper from an electric substation.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)