SPANISH FORK — A Springville man faces criminal charges after police say he tried to steal copper wire from Union Pacific Railroad at Spanish Fork Canyon but got stuck in the mud with the loot.
Travis Jon Klett, 32, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with theft, a third-degree felony, and criminal mischief and trespassing, both class B misdemeanors.
According to an affidavit filed in support of Klett's arrest, Utah County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a call of a theft in progress near U.S. 6. on March 27. A Union Pacific worker reported seeing a man and woman in a large red truck stuck in the mud alongside railroad tracks, the affidavit states.
The worker had approached the truck and saw "numerous stacks of copper all around his truck," as well as a roll of copper wire on the back of the man's truck that belongs to Union Pacific.
That same worker happened to have caught Klett last fall in the same area with the same truck, police said.
According to the affidavit, police found Klett in a gated, padlocked area that belongs to the railroad. The padlock had been cut, the worker told authorities.
"The flatbed truck was badly stuck in mud and the suspect, who is the owner of the truck, was trying to get it out. He denied cutting the wire down, and said he was only in the area as part of a nonprofit organization cleaning up the area. He did, however, tell deputies he intended to sell the copper wire for cash," the Utah County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.5 comments on this story
Klett told the sheriff's deputies that he had found the spool of wire sitting by the highway, court documents state. A deputy also found an orange vest like those worn by railroad employees inside Klett's truck, according to the affidavit.
Railroad employees told the sheriff's deputies that the wire had been strung along poles adjacent to the tracks. The wire's estimated value was $500, the release states.
Klett has a criminal history in Utah, the sheriff's office said, including past convictions for theft, burglary and drug offenses.