Copper has been stolen from telephone cable lines in at least three different areas in Letcher County in recent weeks.
Letcher County Sheriff ’s Lt. Brian Damron said lines belonging to AT&T were recently stolen near Highway 317 in Deane and Neon, near Highway 15 in Isom and Whitesburg, and near Highway 160 in Linefork.
The copper stolen was in 300 pair and 200 pair phone lines. Damron estimated the monetary loss to be at least $20,000.
“We understand it not only affects the phone company, but people in this community go without telephone, Internet and cell phone service,” said Damron.
“It can actually stop people from calling 9-1-1.”
Sheriff ’s deputies and Kentucky State Police troopers are investigating the cases. Damron said an arrest will be made soon. He said police are also targeting scrap metal dealers to whom the stolen copper is being taken and sold.
“We are going to prosecute people who are involved on both ends,” Damron said.
Damron asks that anyone who finds a burn pile with remnants of copper wiring or has information about the copper thefts call the sheriff ’s department at 633-2293, state police at (606) 435-6069 or AT&T Asset Protection at 1 (800) 807-4205.
“Kentuckians depend on telecommunications for so many things, especially in emergencies,” said State Rep. Leslie Combs. “Copper theft is a serious problem and the Kentucky legislature has worked extensively to address it. But local law enforcement needs the help of local citizens to put a stop to copper theft. If you see anything suspicious, please alert local authorities. By working together, we can help put an end to copper theft.”