Kentucky offers bounty in copper thefts

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The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and local authorities are offering up to a $2,500 reward from road maintenance funds after several copper thefts throughout the past four years.

It is being estimated that copper theft has already cost taxpayers more than $2 million in highway lighting damages.

“The crime of copper wire theft from lights that illuminate our roadways is literally highway robbery of Kentucky drivers,” says KSP Major Mike Crawford. “This type of theft results in damage that far exceeds the salvage value of the wire.”

The cash rewards are being offered to anyone who can provide information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the copper wire thefts from highway lights. The agencies are also urging metal recyclers to help identify anyone trying to sell the stolen copper.

KYTC deputy highway engineer Nancy Albright says thieves have stolen wire from entrance and exit ramp lights on Kentucky’s interstate highways at least 37 times thus far in 2014. She’s worried that the thefts are going to result in a much higher safety risk to drivers  trying to navigate unfamiliar lanes in greater darkness.

Albright also says that overall road maintenance is going to suffer because the cost of repairs from the copper thefts comes from the cabinet’s highway maintenance funds.

“Motor-fuels tax money that Kentucky drivers pay at the pump – money that we need for such work as snow and ice removal, potholes and guardrail repair – instead has to be spent to remediate crime scenes,” Albright said.

KYTC Acting Inspector General Mike Duncan says the thieves shouldn’t be hard to identify. Authorized work crews will be in clearly marked vehicles from KYTC or its two lighting contractors – Arrow Electric Co. and Davis H. Elliott Co.