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Thieves steal copper wire from Bountiful utility poles

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6 2012 4:58 p.m. MST

BOUNTIFUL — Police and Bountiful City Power officials are trying to figure out who has been stealing large amounts of copper wire used to bring power to light poles on the city’s east bench.

Two thefts and one attempted theft along Bountiful Boulevard and Canyon Crest Drive have effectively fleeced the city of 4,500 feet of wire, city officials said Thursday.

Residents noticed the first signs of something wrong when their street lights didn’t come on at night earlier in the week. Some blamed the weather.

“Just before the windstorm started, we had our power flicker,” Jill Zollinger said. “And so we assumed the street lights had just been taken out by a power glitch.”

A call to the power company and a walk out to the buried electrical box next to a light pole changed her mind.

“(Power crews) lifted it up, and you could see all of the lines had been cut,” Zollinger said. “Somebody’s desperate. How dare they do this!”

A police spokesman sounded frustrated about the metal thieves as he combed over one of the areas they hit, near 1500 S. Bountiful Blvd.

“Too many of them are doing this type of stuff — stealing it from utility poles, stealing it from construction sites,” said Bountiful Police Sgt. Jon Purcell. “It ends up costing a lot of money.”

Bountiful City Power director Allen Johnson said the heist might net the thieves a few hundred dollars, and yet the city will have to shell out $1.50 per foot to purchase new wire. Other parts and additional labor add to the costs, which Johnson said will reach into the thousands of dollars from the latest round of thefts.

“I’ve always said people wouldn’t work that hard for an honest living,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing that they would do that for the small reward that they’re getting versus the risk.”

The risk, Johnson said, was that somebody could get electrocuted — either the suspect or suspects — or even an unsuspecting passerby.

“This is a real dangerous situation both for our personnel when they get there to work on something, and also for the people who are doing it,” Johnson said. “If you cut the grounds which are copper, the protection for a lot of the equipment is disabled and we could get somebody hurt and we wouldn’t know it until we got there.”

Johnson said the trend of thefts on utility properties has grown in Davis County over the past year, since thieves started raiding the area surrounding Legacy Parkway for copper wire in January.

Bountiful has started hiring full-time security workers to guard substations when crews do major work there.

The latest three cases all centered around street light infrastructure surfaced within the past week.

Purcell said detectives are continuing to investigate the crimes, but there was no known surveillance video and there were no known witnesses to what took place.

Investigators hope anyone with information will contact Bountiful police at 801-298-6000.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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