Crime Watch: Cases of copper theft - WRBL

Crime Watch: Cases of copper theft

Posted: Updated:
Copper inside an air conditioning unit Copper inside an air conditioning unit
Barrel full of scrap copper Barrel full of scrap copper
Michael Stephens and his guard dog Bama Michael Stephens and his guard dog Bama
Bama attacking would-be thieves on surveillance video Bama attacking would-be thieves on surveillance video
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The summer months have proven to be prime season for burglaries this year, and some thieves are targeting the hot commodity, copper.

In Alabama, reports of copper theft have popped up in Opelika, Auburn and Phenix City this summer. Seth Brown says they don't have that problem anymore in Columbus, thanks to the Copper Theft Task Force.

"In the past they would take it to the salvage yards and turn it in for money," Brown says. "Copper is a commodity item. It's worth money, and that was basically what they were doing."

At $3.13 per pound, copper is valuable scrap, but nowadays reputable businesses won't touch the stuff if they think it's stolen. The task force, formed in 2011, has cut copper theft by nearly 90% in Columbus.

Their method is a secret, but Brown says it helps to have residents on the lookout for suspicious behavior. "Citizen involvement is crucial," he says. "We've seen several thefts that have been thwarted by citizens who pick up the phone and say, 'Something's just not quite right.'"

Brown says business and homeowners should put gates around air conditioning units and other things on their property that may contain copper. Also, avoid large bushes, as shrubbery can provide a great hiding place and work station for thieves. One Ladonia man, however, has another tactic.

"Definitely a dog. Get a dog and they'll do their job," says Michael Stephens.

He works in maintenance and has collected scraps of various metals over the years. Recently thieves took over $2000 worth of copper from his backyard.

When they came back for seconds, he was prepared, and so was his dog Bama, who can be seen on surveillance video chasing them off the property.

Stephens says, "I've been here for over 18 years, and I ain't ever had anybody mess with anything. I had gotten an alarm system just to save on my homeowner's insurance a little bit, and then after they did that, I bought the camera system. Then when they came back and I got 'em, then I upgraded and got even more cameras."

He's working with police to identify the men he caught on camera, but he'll most likely never see his copper again.

If you're interested in learning more about the Columbus Copper Theft Task Force, contact Lt. Steve Cox with the Columbus Police Department.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Aug 25, 2014 07:03 PM2014-08-28 22:27:56 GMT
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
  • Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-08-30 04:01:33 GMT
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
  • 3 injured after tractor-trailer overturns in Phenix City

    3 injured after tractor-trailer overturns in Phenix City

    Friday, August 29 2014 6:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:03:50 GMT
    Two tractor-trailers collided Friday morning in Phenix City.It happened on US-431 near Chattahoochee Valley Community College.Officials say a tractor-trailer carrying recycled cans flipped over- after it couldn't stop at a red light. The semi then slammed into a car and a logging truck. Crews cleaned up the cans that spilled onto the highway as traffic backed up for miles. Nothing spilled from the logging truck. 3 people were sent to the hospital--but no one was seriously injured.
    Two tractor-trailers collided Friday morning in Phenix City.It happened on US-431 near Chattahoochee Valley Community College.Officials say a tractor-trailer carrying recycled cans flipped over- after it couldn't stop at a red light. The semi then slammed into a car and a logging truck. Crews cleaned up the cans that spilled onto the highway as traffic backed up for miles. Nothing spilled from the logging truck. 3 people were sent to the hospital--but no one was seriously injured.
  • On Your SideMore>>

  • Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-08-30 04:01:33 GMT
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
  • Teacher appeals layoff at MCSD tribunal hearing

    Teacher appeals layoff at MCSD tribunal hearing

    Friday, August 29 2014 6:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:45:38 GMT
    A laid off Muscogee County school teacher is trying to get her job back during a tribunal hearing. LaQuita Buckner was let go on July 11th after serving the school district for 18 years.
    A laid off Muscogee County school teacher is trying to get her job back during a tribunal hearing. LaQuita Buckner was let go on July 11th after serving the school district for 18 years.
  • Cool School: Glenwood

    Cool School: Glenwood

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:22:54 GMT
    Glenwood is teaching kids the importance of a "hand written letter" through a student-run post office.11 students meet twice a week after school to sort and deliver the mail that any student, parent, or teacher can write and drop off in a mailbox in the front of the school. The mail is then delivered to the classrooms 3 times a week. Last year, students were sworn in by the Smiths Station Post Master- but not before they could prove they could handle the job.“Those who scored 80% on the onlin...
    Glenwood is teaching kids the importance of a "hand written letter" through a student-run post office.11 students meet twice a week after school to sort and deliver the mail that any student, parent, or teacher can write and drop off in a mailbox in the front of the school. The mail is then delivered to the classrooms 3 times a week. Last year, students were sworn in by the Smiths Station Post Master- but not before they could prove they could handle the job.“Those who scored 80% on the onlin...
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.