Its not only illegal, it’s very dangerous. The theft of copper wire from utility poles has been on the increase in the last few years.
The latest theft happened Monday morning in the Brogden community east of Smithfield. Around 12:45am, a resident on Creech’s Mill Road was awakened by his dog barking. He went outside with a spotlight to investigate and saw a man standing nearby at the base of a Duke Energy utility pole rolling up copper wire. The resident shined the spotlight on the man and yelled, “What are you doing?” The suspect dropped the wire and fled on foot.
Authorities believe there were at least two suspects. A suspicious black four door Nissan pickup was seen driving slowly in the area around the same time.
Duke Energy crews responded and found approximately one mile of copper ground wire had been cut from power poles along Creech’s Mill Road.
The thieves were so startled, they dropped all the stolen wire on the ground when they fled. The copper, valued at $63,000, was turned over to Duke Energy.
In August 2018, over $30,000 worth of copper ground wire was stolen from Duke Energy poles on County Line Road outside of Benson.
In September 2018, a utility pole fire on Massengill Pond Road near the Johnston-Harnett County line caused $5,000 in damage to power equipment. Officials blamed the fire on a copper thief who had stolen $800 in ground wire from nearby poles.
Anyone who sees any person around any utility poles – especially in rural areas – that is not with their local power company is asked to contact their nearest law enforcement agency.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating but hasn’t made any arrests. Anyone who has information about any of the thefts is asked to contact detectives at 919-989-5000.