Newberry officials: Thieves try to snag copper via forklift - - Columbia, South Carolina

Newberry officials: Thieves try to snag copper via forklift

Phillip Nabors Phillip Nabors
Calvin Hutchinson Calvin Hutchinson
Bryan Roeker Bryan Roeker

NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - A Newberry business man thought he had seen it all, until Monday night. Authorities say this time, greedy copper thieves tried something Billye West never expected.

Billye West knows his copper is hot. At nearly $4 a pound - it's also a favorite target of thieves. West says, "We know better, sometimes we get slack."

Though he's robbed about once a month - West wasn't ready for what officials found Monday morning - getting a tip from a passer-by who noticed something odd. Sheriff Lee Foster explains what happened, "Deputy gets there and sees an individual riding on a forklift, carrying a bale of copper wire."

Caught in the act, authorities say Phillip Nabors and Calvin Hutchinson tried lifting 700-pounds of copper - nearly $3,000 worth - over the fence.

Officials say another suspect, Bryan Roeker, got away.

West says many thieves are "quite aware of what copper is worth and they know which copper to take that they can sell."

The problem has gotten so bad in recent years, West put up a fence. When thieves tore through it, he put up barbed wire. But that doesn't seem to be working either.

Now he's building a storage facility, but it won't be cheap. West says, "The only reason we're starting this is because of our copper thieves."

The persistent theft is forcing West to spend $40,000 on the new building. Scrap and new copper will be locked inside, away from thieves that'll try just about anything, officials say, so long as scrap dealers and recycling shops are willing to buy.

Sheriff Foster wants to hear from those scrap dealers and recycling shops more often, "Who is going to recycle a spool of brand new cooper? That's when these folks need to turn around and call us."

Reported by Dan Tordjman

Posted by Chantelle Janelle

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