COLUMBUS, Ga. — Stolen copper wire from the lights at the Northern Little League fields is throwing a possible curve ball in the start of their season. Northern Little League President John Lawson says 2,500 feet of heavy gauge copper wire was stolen out of the lights last week.
Lawson noticed the copper was stolen when they were practicing last Thursday. He suspects it was stolen last Tuesday when there was rainy weather and no one was out using the fields. Now, the league is hoping to have the lights fixed in time for opening day Friday.
About half of the field lights on each field for the two older age groups do not work due to copper wire being stolen from them, which Lawson says limits their practice time.
“Basically makes it unsafe to practice. You know, seeing the baseball for hitting and catching is pretty important so, we did not, we halted the practices pretty much at that point,” he explained.
Lawson says the wire is stolen from an area close to the bottom of the light pole.
“Pop the covers, access covers, off the light stands and I’m told hook a cable or something to an ATV and just basically drive off and pull the wire out of the pole,” he said.
The City of Columbus is fixing the lights.
“The city came out and worked and at that point they decided they needed to shut down all of the lights just for safety until they got them fixed,” Lawson said.
This is not the first time copper wire has been stolen at the fields.
“About two years ago the copper was taken out of the lights on the junior-senior field, the larger field,” Lawson said.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson formed the Copper Task Force in May 2011 to combat copper theft. Director of Crime Prevention Seth Brown says copper theft dropped more than 47 percent within one year of the task force being created.
“Theft of copper wiring is especially difficult since there is no way to mark the wiring. There are efforts being made to replace copper wiring with copper melds which render the wiring worthless,” Brown tells News 3.
Lawson says if they can’t get all of their games in Friday, they will work to move the schedules around to get all the games in on Saturday.