New City Ordinance Allows TPD To Crack Down On Copper Thieves

Thursday, January 19th 2017, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

A recently passed Tulsa ordinance allows police to crack down on copper thieves and the recyclers who buy the stolen wire. 

The theft costs the city millions of dollars but police said they're finally turning the tide. 

Copper thieves stole three miles of wires just from the street lights around town and it's cost nearly $3 million in taxpayer money to replace it. 

The city is replacing the copper wire with aluminum because it's not as valuable and they're putting up signs stating the wires are aluminum. 

The city is also making these doors more tamper-resistant and they passed an ordinance that really helps police.

A surveillance video shows two people cutting the wire to a light pole near 41st and Yale, then pulling it out and rolling it up. 

They strip off the insulation and take it to local scrap dealers. There's nothing to identify it as stolen and they get about two dollars and 30 cents a pound right now.

"You can scrap a $3,000 dollar air conditioner for about 25 bucks," said TPD Cpl. Craig Johnson. 

He said most need the money to buy meth and they've hit nearly every light pole on every highway in town. 

And police said it's not only expensive, it's also dangerous for drivers.

"It's absolutely frustrating," Johnson said. 

Tulsa's new ordinance allows police to check the books of the recyclers and recyclers must join a national database called Leads Online.

"If I have a known copper thief, I can put in the name and my computer will give me an email alert every time he sells copper and I'll have pictures of what he sells and can start going after him that way," Johnson said. 

His unit's investigated more than 50 suspects and gotten charges filed on 19 - four were in the same family, and several are repeat offenders.

Police said if you see someone on the highway near a light pole, call police and if you recognize the people in the video, call Crime Stoppers.