Copper Thieves Cause Outage

, Posted: Thu, March 21 2013 at 5:22 PM, Updated: Thu, March 21 2013 at 6:51 PM

A bold move: thieves took 30 feet of phone line, cutting it end from end and plunged Ruch into a communications black hole.
The phone line is copper inside and it sells for a pretty penny, so this kind of theft is becoming more common.

Ramsay Realty owner, Clare Stevens, came into work Wednesday to find his phone wasn't working
"We were back in the old age, pen and pencil," says Stevens.

Century Link tells us about 500 customers lost service to their land lines and internet as the result of copper thieves. About 30 feet of 600 pair copper line taken from these poles at the top of Jacksonville Hill.

"I turned it on and none of the bars were showing and there was a little icon on there that said I didn't have service," Ruch resident Debbie Shepherd says. Furthermore, multiple cell phone carrier services were interrupted most likely as a result.

Heather Koch, a spoke's person for Century Link says it's not an uncommon crime. "It happens, copper thieves are still out there."
And it can actually pose dangers. "It could potentially cost somebody who couldn't get ahold of 911."

Mike Melton of White City Scrap Metal tells us currently copper is worth about $2.80 a pound. "It probably, as much as that stuffs going to weigh, it's going to be about 1000 dollars in scrap weight."
But selling it will be another matter: Oregon law requires anyone transporting metal to have a certificate saying where it came from or risk a $1,250 fine. "Scrapyards, because of new laws  have to take picture of the object, the car, and the people and keep it on file for law enforcement."

Back in Ruch, things are back up and running today,
"Shows you how much you depend on technology," comments Stevens. Still for hundreds of customers living in such a technologically reliant world, it was a costly crime.

If you ever see unidentified people working on lines without proper equipment: hard hats, flaggers, orange vests --  officials warn they may be up to no good, so your encouraged to call 911.

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