Police Say Copper Thieves Hit Lawrence County

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) -- A mended hole marks the spot police say thieves gained access to thousands of dollars in copper at the Craighead Electric Maintenance Facility just outside of Walnut Ridge Thursday morning.

Mike Hawkins is the District Manager at Craighead Electric in Walnut Ridge.

"It's the worst thing imaginable for us because so much of our stuff is copper," said Hawkins.

Police say the thieves escaped with nearly two thousand dollars in copper wire and tubing.

Even under lock and key, the copper isn't safe.

"It's to the point that they'll do just about anything to get to it," said Hawkins.

"The theft of not just copper but just about any scrap metal is just of epidemic proportion right now," said Cross County Sheriff, Ronnie Baldwin.

Meanwhile during a stop in the Delta Thursday afternoon, Senator Blanche Lincoln addressed the ever present and growing problem of copper thefts in Arkansas and nationwide.

Cross County Sheriff Ronnie Baldwin says he's hopeful for some sort of federal legislation concerning metal thefts.

"We're trying to do things locally like maybe stiffen our own state legislation, but that's still not going to help us when the items are being carried across state lines," said Baldwin.

"If that copper gets stripped, that fact is, the building loses it's value and all of the sudden the community loses an opportunity. We're going to look real hard to see what we can do, and I think we can come up with something," said Arkansas Senator, Blanche Lincoln.

Back in Lawrence County, Mike Hawkins was lucky.

He says arrests have been made in this theft case, and some of his materials were even returned.

He says chances are, thieves will strike again--not necessarily there but somewhere, and the next victims may not be so lucky.