Police say more than 1,000 feet of AT&T aerial copper telephone cable was stolen earlier this week in Blackey and Roxana.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Jody Sims said 1,000 feet of copper was taken in Roxana on Monday and 170 feet of copper wire was taken from Blackey on Sunday.
Cathy Lewandowski, senior public relations manager of AT&T Strategic Communications, said there have been 10 copper thefts in the Letcher County this past month.
“Stealing copper is very dangerous,” said Lewandowski. “Someone could be electrocuted.”
State Rep. Leslie Combs said copper theft is a serious problem and the Kentucky legislature has worked extensively to address it.
“But local law enforcement need the help of local citizens to put a stop to copper theft,” said Combs. “If you see anything suspicious, please alert local authorities. By working together, we can help put an end to copper theft.”
Scrap metal dealers in Kentucky are required by law to keep detailed, electronic records of their transactions including the sellers’ photographs, signatures and their vehicle information. Penalties for damaging a communication or utility facility or interrupting services can include a felony conviction carrying prison time and heavy fines.
“The steady rise in the market price of copper and the state of the economy have led some people to extreme measures, including stealing copper cables from houses and telephone poles,” said Mary Pat Regan, president of AT&T Kentucky. “The new Kentucky law will help prevent the theft of copper wire from AT&T telephone poles, work centers and cell sites, which puts our customers and sometimes entire communities out of service.”
Kentucky’s metal theft laws are designed to deter this growing problem by targeting thieves who steal and then resell secondary metals. House Bill 242 prohibits anyone from buying or selling metal that has been smelted, burned or melted. Metal theft costs businesses nationally around $1 billion each year, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. It can also affect public safety by compromising communications or emergency response capabilities including 911 service.
“Kentuckians depend on telecommunications for so many things, especially in emergencies,” said Combs.
AT&T is working with law enforcement agencies and scrap metal dealers in the City of Whitesburg and Letcher County to catch those responsible for several thefts that have occurred in the past several weeks.
AT&T urges shop owners, employees and anyone with information on the recent copper thefts to call the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department (606) 633-2293, Kentucky State Police at (606) 435-6069 or AT&T Asset Protection at 1 (800) 807-4205.