CSX Hit by Copper Thieves

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

August 11, 2006

With copper worth nearly $4 per pound criminals can make a pretty penny selling it and they are going to great lengths to get it.

“Copper is bringing in a lot of money right now. It’s over $3 a pound,” said Patrick Sheridan of the Louisa County Sheriff’s Dept.

That's why Louisa County sheriffs say thieves have been stealing it at alarming rates from CSX utility poles along the railroad tracks. CSX reports stolen copper wire in Louisa, Cismont and in Scottsville. The railroad is losing thousands in personal property so when operators saw someone suspicious on the tracks Wednesday they called sheriffs.

“We hid in the woods and while hiding in the woods we were able to watch him pull down the copper wire from the poles, cut it down, roll it into small rolls and set it on the tracks,” said Sheridan.

Investigators say the suspect started his crime spree at this building and continued for a quarter of a mile, throwing a rope over the wire, pulling it down and cutting it with clippers.

“He was within five feet of us before he knew we were there and we took him into custody,” said Sheridan.

Tony Dirk Park of mineral was charged with grand larceny, destruction of property and trespassing. He was released on bond Thursday. Investigators confiscated 58 copper rolls weighing 343 pounds.

“They'll burn the insulation off of it and then take the copper to a salvage yard and they'll sell it for whatever the market rate is,” said Sheridan.

The rate sheriff’s estimate is $3.65 per pound, or a net worth in this case of about $1,000.

Investigators said that the wire in Louisa is no longer being used by the train company, but the stolen wire in Scottsville had to all be replaced. This year copper has almost doubled in value over the same time last year.

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