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Copper Theft Spike Plagues Windstream, Others

Copper Wire Pile

Copper theft remains prevalent despite efforts to curb the crime, including rewards offered by Windstream for information leading to arrests.

This week in Kentucky, the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department asked for help identifying the vehicle and person(s) involved in the theft of two large spools of copper wire, according to the Daily Independent. This is just the latest in a string of copper thefts around the country.

In May, Windstream reported that a couple of copper thefts caused an ongoing outage for customers in the Meads area, also in Kentucky. The outage affected all services, including access to 911.

In April, Windstream offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Also this summer, the Craighead County, Arkansas, sheriff’s office fielded customer complaints about dropped phone service from thieves ripping out copper wires. An AT&T employee called the department after he found 50 feet of wire had gone missing. Thieves often take copper because of its high value and because junkyards pay for it.

Windstream's Scott Morris

Windstream’s Scott Morris

Scott Morris, Windstream‘s senior adviser of corporate affairs, tells Channel Partners copper thefts can have a significant financial impact over time, including the cost of replacement materials and labor.

“Copper thefts can result in outages that prevent our customers from making phone calls, including 911 calls,” he said. “That can be a significant public safety issue because wireless service is often unreliable in many of our most rural service areas.”

Windstream works closely with law enforcement agencies and, when appropriate, offers rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of copper thieves, Morris said.

“As part of that, we typically ask the public to report suspicious activity, and we alert area scrap yards,” he said. “We’ve also supported efforts to strengthen the legal penalties for stealing copper and for reselling stolen copper.”


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