Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thieves Hit Businesses in Search of Copper Wire; BellSouth Work Yards, Even a Music Performance Hall Have Been Targets of Thefts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thieves Hit Businesses in Search of Copper Wire; BellSouth Work Yards, Even a Music Performance Hall Have Been Targets of Thefts

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Diamonds may be forever and all that glitters may be gold, but this holiday season it seems lots of people loved copper.

Police say people with a yen for the metal haven't been afraid to raid BellSouth work yards on the Southside, construction sites in Mandarin and even an historic music hall in Riverside to get it.

The thefts don't just inconvenience utility companies and contractors. The time spent to replace the stolen spools means added delay in completing the projects they were destined for, according to police and industry officials.

Locally, lots of rolls of copper wire have been stolen from BellSouth, with one facility on Rolac Road on the Southside hit a dozen times since November, the latest on New Year's Day.

The price of copper is at an all-time high, which makes it a lucrative opportunity, said company spokesman Don Sadler in Miami.

"We have taken measures to address the various methods of entry [of the thieves], and each time they develop a new entry point. We have even had situations where they have come in during the day."

Police say they are well aware of the problem and are working on it with victims like BellSouth. But even staking out scrap metal dealers to see who might be selling stolen wire isn't turning up who is scooping the copper, said burglary division Sgt. James Hill.

"There is no pattern. They are hitting several different businesses," he said. "We haven't been able to identify anyone in Jacksonville. They are taking stuff from trucks, yards and everywhere."

The latest burglary at BellSouth's yard at 2502 Rolac Road occurred between 5 p.m. Monday and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, when someone cut the fence before cutting or unlocking the hasps securing rolls of copper wiring on six trucks.

Previous burglaries there included 12 coils of wire and scrap cable valued together at $2,710 stolen in late December, shortly after two others were stolen from a truck Dec. 13 or 14, and more taken Dec. 11.

Other BellSouth sites were hit, with 13 rolls valued at $1,300 stolen late Nov. 19 from a fenced-in yard in the 9400 block of Old Kings Road South. More coils of copper valued together at $1,500 were stolen between Dec. 8 and 10 after someone cut the lock off a gate at a BellSouth facility at 7553 Atlantic Blvd. …

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