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Thieves take 1.5 miles of copper
By JUSTIN GEORGE, Times Staff Writer
Published January 16, 2008
TAMPA - Thieves stole a mile and a half of copper wire that train operators use to transmit signals, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported Tuesday, adding a new page to the chronicles of copper thefts triggered by the metal's demand.
In New Port Richey last month, a man stole copper wire from a Lowe's garden center. Many have been caught taking expensive air conditioner units just to pull out copper coils that sell for $40 or $50. A husband-and-wife team of copper thieves from Pasco remains on the run.
In Hillsborough, deputies arrested David Weber, 46, on Saturday, saying he and an accomplice stole 8,000 feet of copper signal wire from railroad property near Causeway Boulevard and Gelman Place South in Tampa.
Train operators in Jacksonville use the wire to transmit signals and its removal resulted in train delays, authorities said. A witness reported seeing Weber and another man hiding the wire, worth $53,000, in woods along the CSX tracks.
Summoned to the area, deputies set up a perimeter and caught Weber.
He remained in a Hillsborough County jail Tuesday in lieu of $56,000 bail on two counts of interference with railroad tracks or equipment, second-degree grand theft, interference with railroad signs and criminal mischief of $1,000 or more.
The man believed to be Weber's accomplice remains at large, sheriff's officials said.
In the past five years, the price of copper has tripled, fueled by a building boom in economically surging countries such as China, the New York Times reported Tuesday.