Whitley Co. number one in state for telephone line thefts

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

Whitley County is at the top of the list in Kentucky for the most telephone line thefts.

New laws implemented last July place tougher requirements on scrap metal yards, and now some are pushing for harsher punishment for copper thieves.

Telephone lines may be hard to reach, but that has not stopped thieves from finding a way to take those lines and trying to sell the scrap for some extra cash.

"It's inevitable that you are going to encounter these situations. If we have material come in that looks suspicious at all we simply turn it away," said Doug Elder, General Manager of Eastern Kentucky Recycling.

At Eastern Kentucky Recycling in Williamsburg, they have a list of requirements that by law they must check before they take in any scraps.

"On top of the drivers license and the license plate number, we also take digital photographs of the material which records the date and time," said Elder.

Even with the new laws, Whitley County is still fighting telephone line and copper thefts. Since January 1st, the sheriff says six telephone line thefts have already been reported.

Sheriff Harrell says the increase in copper thefts has a lot to do with the value of the copper. As the price goes up, so do the thefts.

He says many of the thefts take place on Highway 92 because the area is remote.

Currently, these types of thefts are only a class D felony carrying a one to five year sentence, but Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford wants to change that.

He is working with senator Ray Jones to introduce legislation that would increase the penalty for copper thefts to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.

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