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Copper theft causes $500,000 in damage

Police in Boyle County are investigating a copper theft they consider one of the biggest they've ever dealt with.

The Boyle County Sheriff's Department says a tip led them to check out an abandoned industrial building Wednesday afternoon.

When they arrived, a deputy says he found 21-year-old Dustin Fifer in the building. The deputy said he then ran off.

Fifer was soon arrested nearby. Police say he had been stripping copper wiring from the walls of the building for about a month.

The deputy also arrested Fifer's girlfriend, 18-year-old Ashley Watters, who investigators said had come to the building to pick Fifer up.

Deputies say they're searching for other people who may have been involved in the theft.

Investigators estimate the copper theft caused at least $500,000 in damage to the building.

"Oh, it's a big deal," Boyle County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Stratton said. "It's theft and it's a crime. Someday, someone may want to buy this building... and this decreases the value greatly."

Deputies say Fifer was selling the copper to at least three scrap metal yards in the area, making thousands of dollars off the stolen property.

Fifer is charged with 10 counts of burglary, and fleeing and evading police, among other charges.

Watters is charged with complicity to commit those crimes.

The building where the theft happened has been vacant for about five years. The sheriff's department is still trying to determine who owns it.

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