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Thieves steal copper wiring from UP rail yard

(The following story by Kenneth Dean appeared on the Tyler Morning Telegraph website on January 23.)

TYLER, Texas — Brazen thieves are boosting large spools of copper wiring and they are stealing them from the Union Pacific Railroad yard in downtown Tyler.

Tyler Police Public Information Officer Don Martin said officers were patrolling the area under the Beckham Avenue bridge when they spotted a large amount of the insulation that covers the wiring.

"The officers got out of their vehicle to check out the area when two black male suspects ran in the opposite direction," he said.

Martin showed an area under the bridge and in some adjoining woods where the thieves had stripped an untold amount of copper.

"They've evidently been doing this a long time as you can see there is insulation everywhere," he said.

Martin said the officers confiscated some of the thieves' stripped copper in bundles Tuesday morning.

A Union Pacific official at the scene told authorities that thieves have been hitting the railroad all across the south.

"We have been hit in Tyler, Winona, Chandler, Brownsboro, and Longview and all over the entire region," the official told one officer.

Martin said the copper is actually a copper weld, which means it is not pure copper.

"This is not pure copper, which sells for more, but they are making some money by selling it to the scrap yards," he said.

The railroad official told officers that the railroad was paying $2 per foot for the copper wiring, which is used to run switching stations.

Last month thieves struck the switching station in Winona and stole the copper wiring used to operate the switching mechanism on the tracks.

Officials with Union Pacific told the Tyler Morning Telegraph then that the theft could cause a serious accident between oncoming trains.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

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