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Washington Co. Sheriff's Dept. has suspect in copper wire thefts

April 18, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

The Washington County Sheriff's Department has a suspect in the theft of copper wire from numerous utility poles in the Mount Aetna area, Investigator Greg Alton said.

Alton said that wire was cut this week from about 20 poles, with a total value of about $3,000.

Police haven't filed any charges yet, Alton said Friday.

The episode is the latest in what authorities have said is a flood of copper thefts plaguing Washington County, and many other areas, in the past few years.

Alton said copper prices have been high, making it attractive to thieves.

One commodities listing put copper prices at close to $4 per pound Friday.

Alton said someone cut wires on poles in the area of Howell and Mount Aetna roads, probably on Wednesday.

The wires were cut at the ground and higher up on the pole, most likely by someone using a ladder, Alton said.

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Gwendolyn Moats of Howell Road said an Allegheny Power investigator stopped at her house Thursday to ask if she had seen anything connected to the theft the previous day.

Copper theft from Allegheny's substations and service centers has been an ongoing problem, company spokesman Allen Staggers said.

Damage to a ground wire won't affect electrical service, but could create a problem if there were a short circuit, he said.

Moats called The Herald-Mail about the problem in her neighborhood in the hope of getting the word out.

"We have to keep people informed of stuff," she said.

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