Copper cable theft a growing problem in Four Corners
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Apr 04, 2013 | 3241 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cables containing copper wiring are often cut then stripped of the copper by thieves, authorities say. Photo courtesy of San Miguel Sheriff’s Office
Cables containing copper wiring are often cut then stripped of the copper by thieves, authorities say. Photo courtesy of San Miguel Sheriff’s Office
One sign of the struggling economy is the increasing theft of copper cable from industrial sites, law enforcement officials said this week.

The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office in Telluride, Colo., recently reported the theft of $60,000 worth of cable from the Topaz Mine in western Colorado’s Big Gypsum Valley. But Grand County Sheriff Steve White says the same problem plagues southeastern Utah.

“We’re seeing a major spike in thefts,” he said. “We’ve had several on the railroad where they’ve cut wires. And the last several years there have been thefts off the old missile base in Green River.”

White investigated the most recent incident in Grand County just two weeks ago. He said “quite a large amount” of copper wiring was stolen from railroad property near Westwater.

“We’ve had quite a lot of it recently,” White said. “Most of our stuff has been on the old military base, but the railroad is our big one now.”

Deputy Todd Gordon of the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said thieves often strip rubber and plastic off the cable and sell the copper to recycling centers.

“Normally, they don’t know what they’re getting,” he said of the buyers.

Most of the thefts San Miguel County authorities investigate are from mining operations, Gordon said.

“We’ve seen it more and more in that [Big Gypsum Valley] region,” he said. “I’ve heard of it happening in San Juan County, Utah, too. This is becoming a pretty common occurrence in the mining industry.”

The theft at Topaz Mine occurred sometime between late December and the first week of March, when a mine employee discovered the loss during a routine environmental check, Gordon said. The mine has been shut down since late 2007.

Gordon added that about 3,000 feet of cable was taken.

“Someone must have been comfortable in a mine,” he said. “We’re talking a huge amount of weight. We’re talking about someone who knew what they were doing.”

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the Topaz Mine thefts. Anyone with information about the Topaz Mine theft is encouraged to call Gordon or investigator Norman Squier at 970-728-1911. Information about thefts in Grand County may be reported to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 435-259-8115.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.