Copper thefts increasing in Letcher Co.

By Katie Roach | 

Copper thieves strike Letcher County again.

Thousands were without phone service last week after thieves stole copper just off of Highway 15.

The sheriff's office has been combating copper thieves for several months.

They've made some arrests, but the thefts keep happening.

Ronnie Burns lives in Letcher County. He said last week his phone service was out for three days.

"We get phone service, and it seems like in a few days it's out again. It's a never ending thing," said Burns.

Copper thieves tear the lines down, burn the plastic coatings away, and then sell it for profit.

Phone outages occur for days and sometimes weeks at a time. In some areas, land line phone service is the only form of communication.

"My mom was sick and the doctor was trying to call her, and they couldn't get through. So it was real bad," said Burns.

So far police have arrested eleven people in connection to copper thefts this year, but the sheriff says it's like fighting two problems. At the root of most thefts lies a drug habit.

"When we are interviewing them and when they decide to talk to us initially, they all say they are addicts and they were trying to get drug money," said Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb.

Sheriff Webb says the best way to prevent copper thefts is for community members to call police if they see anything suspicious.

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