Light Rail Copper Thefts Could Be Deadly
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Two brothers were taken into custody for allegedly stealing copper from RTD Light Rail construction sites.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Steven and Frankie Reynolds from Englewood on Tuesday. Authorities said they could have been killed stealing that copper.
“We’ve been hit by copper thieves for awhile now and it is creating a big problem for us,” said RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas.
It’s an expensive problem that is slowing progress on the FasTracks West Rail Line construction. The crime could also become deadly.
In December, copper thieves hit the light rail station under construction next to Red Rocks Community College along 6th Avenue. As the project continues, more lines will be energized. RTD said with 825 volts of DC it would be enough to kill a person.
“These copper thieves are getting boulder, braver, wherever the copper is they’re going,” said Jefferson County Sheriff spokesman Mark Techmeyer.
Police believe the brothers stole more than 7,000 feet of copper.
“So we’re looking at current scrap value, close sot $100,000,” said Techmeyer.
Deputies were able to catch the theives by going to local scrap yards and showing them samples of the copper used by RTD.
“It’s very specific to what light rail is using,” said Techmeyer. “There was one scrap yard in town that said, ‘Yeah, just a few days ago we had some of that brought in.’ Of course they knew who brought it in because an ID is required to sell copper.”
Cutting grounding wires can also put workers and the public at risk of getting shocked. After 400 copper thefts in the FasTrack construction area in recent months, RTD is warning copper thieves of the increasing danger and seriousness of the crime.
“When people are out there around our facilities and they’re messing around on our line that’s under construction and if they were to come in contact with a line that’s energized they could be electrocuted,” said Tonilas.
Although the thefts do cause some delays in the project, the West Rail Line is expected to be completed by the 2013 deadline.