The worker saw a copper wire stretched across the interstate from a light pole and attached to the back of a small red pickup truck, according to MDOT. The employee saw the truck and the wire at about 1:30 p.m. July 12 near I-20’s intersection with I-220.
The pickup driver took off with the wire trailing behind. The MDOT employee followed, called 911 and alerted his supervisor.
The pickup driver exited the highway and went into a convenience store, while the passenger, who was physically disabled, stayed by the truck. An MDOT law enforcement officer arrived, and the driver ran into nearby woods. He was eventually found in an abandoned motel.
Jerry L. Evans, 45, no address, was charged with felony theft, simple assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. A previous warrant had also been issued against him for failure to register as a sex offender. His next stop was the county jail.
MDOT reports that this crime was among a rash of incidents reported over the past several months on interstate light systems on I-20, I-220 and I-55. The culprits connect a vehicle or pulley to the wire at one pole and pull the wire through several other poles, according to MDOT.
MDOT says the investigation continues, and it expects more arrests.
“This type of criminal activity endangers the safety of the public,” said Dick Hall, chairman of the Mississippi Transportation Commission. “The action of the MDOT district employee and enforcement officer is commendable.”