WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Copper thefts are keeping police in one county busy. Now, officers say the suspects are getting more brazen, and putting themselves in grave danger.
The Letcher County Sheriff says he has been receiving calls for the last few weeks, complaining of people tampering with electrical lines. He says the department is getting close to making some arrests.
The Letcher County Sheriff says the calls started about a month ago, complaints of power lines disappearing.
"What they're stealing off the power line is the ground wire that runs across the bottom that gives the electricity a ground back from the pole," said Sheriff Danny Webb.
The sheriff checked with the power company, and sure enough, they had been experiencing cable thefts in Letcher County since at least late October of last year.
"Since then, we've lost somewhere around 60 spans of wire, and that will average us somewhere in the $500 per span range to try to get that put back to normal and replaced," said Steven Campbell, revenue protection coordinator for Kentucky Power in Hazard.
Not only are the lines expensive to replace, power company officials say tampering with power lines is extremely dangerous.
"Normally it would be 7,200 volts. Some of our primary lines in Letcher County are 19,920 volt, so that's the potential you've got on the wire that they're stealing," said Campbell.
The sheriff says the department has been following a number of leads, and says several arrests should be made soon.
Officials say if you see downed cables or anyone tampering with power lines, you should report that activity immediately.