Man Arrested For Stealing Copper From Light Poles Along Tulsa Highways
TULSA, Oklahoma - A man is headed to prison for stealing copper out of the light poles along Tulsa highways.
Prosecutors said Chris Wroten is a big reason so many of us have driven on dark highways for months on end.
Police said Wroten stole so much copper that his nickname was “Driveway Chris,” because he would stand in his driveway stripping the stolen copper of the insulation.
Police say there's no telling how much money Driveway Chris cost taxpayers by making the highway lights go dark.
Wroten was a one-man crime wave when it came to stealing copper, according to police. They said he recruited his brother and girlfriend and friends and taught them how to do it as well.
Instead of going to trial, he pleaded guilty and got an eight-year prison sentence.
"I think he took eight years because he saw the writing on the wall,” Assistant District Attorney Mary Knopp. “It's been pretty obvious how upset everyone is about it."
Not only were drivers upset about driving on dark highways for months on end, but people are also upset the city has had to spend $3 million fixing the lights and replacing the copper with aluminum to make it less appealing to thieves and making the poles harder to break into.
"It's incredibly frustrating for everyone involved,” said Knopp.
Knopp said in addition to the copper theft, Driveway Chris also moved in and took over a house where the elderly owner had passed away.
“Incredibly alarming to me he would have the audacity to go up to city utilities and turn on the lights and the water as if he owned the place,” Knopp added.
The D.A. hopes this eight-year sentence sends a message to other people who would steal copper, a message that they're not just going to get a slap on the wrist.
She said this is a crime that is taken seriously because it affects so many people.