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Copper Thieves Are Taking Wiring From Kentucky's Highway Lights, Authorities Say

Kentucky authorities are asking for the public’s help in combating a crime that has cost Kentucky taxpayers more than $2 million—theft of copper wire from highway lighting systems.

“These are difficult crimes to investigate and solve and we’ve decided that we need the public’s help,” said Chuck Hines, an investigator for the transportation cabinet’s inspector general office.

Hines said the lighting systems illuminating interchanges and ramps are being stolen. Kentucky has had 37 documented cases since January, according to a news release.

“A lot of the ramps, especially for those traveling from out of state, are unfamiliar and if they’re unlit, they’re sometimes difficult to negotiate,” Hines said.

Hines said the thefts lead to repair costs for the state. He said thieves are selling the copper by the pound to recyclers—and a pound gets anywhere from $225 to $275. (It takes about 12 feet of copper to make a pound, he added.)

“They’re getting upwards of 25,000 feet at a time from one interchange,” Hines said.

The thefts result in damage that far exceeds the salvage value of the wire, said Kentucky State Police Major Mike Crawford in a news release.

The two agencies have teamed up to offer a reward of up to $2,500 that will be paid by KYTC maintenance funds for information leading to arrest and conviction of those responsible.

“Somebody out there knows who’s doing this. We’re appealing to the public to give us some information, get us going,” Hines said.

Those with information can report to the state police hotline at (800) 222-5555, or they can call investigator Chuck Hines at the Transportation Cabinet’s office of inspector general at (502) 330-0441. Reports can also be made by confidential text messaging to 67283. For tip by text, type KSPTIP in the message field, leave a space and enter information about the crime.

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