Drug addiction and slightly higher prices for copper may be contributing to a rise in copper thefts in Wichita.
Wichita Police have noticed an increase in copper thefts at facilities owned by the city. The most recent report of a copper theft came from the Cowtown parking lot (1865 W Museum Blvd), where Parks and Recreation and Wichita Police officers found damaged electric junction boxes that were missing components.
Police have investigated “numerous” copper theft cases since late 2018. Officer Paul Cruz said a slight increase in the value of copper recently may be a contributing factor, and that most of the suspects caught in copper theft cases have drug addictions. Cruz said he believes the people who commit these crimes are trying to get money to fuel their addiction and get their next high.
The damage caused by the thefts is typically much higher than the payout criminals might get. Officer Cruz said someone that gets a $275 payout from a copper theft would likely have caused more than $5,000 in damages. Those costs would then be paid by companies, insurance or taxpayers, depending on the victim.
Officer Cruz said the people stealing copper may do it in brought daylight while disguised as a city worker. If you see someone near light poles or junction boxes, you can look for the City of Wichita logo on their clothes or vehicle. If you see someone who does not have that logo, you are encouraged to call the police.
“If you see anyone near electric boxes who doesn’t look like a city employee, especially late at night, call 911,” Cruz said.
If you know of someone who may have stolen copper, you can get a cash reward if your information leads to an arrest. Call 267-2111 for CrimeStoppers in Wichita.