Copper thieves using internet to target potential sites

POSTED: 01:23 PM CST Dec 04, 2013    UPDATED: 10:33 PM CST Dec 04, 2013 
Westar substation
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. -

Copper thieves have been getting more creative at identifying potential targets, this as the crime trend continues to rise.

Lt. David Mattingly, Sedgwick County, said deputies have worked numerous copper cases in the past few weeks. He said thieves are using new tactics for those crimes.

"Investigators believe that specific locations are being targeted by suspects who are using computer mapping sites," Mattingly said. "The thieves will identify locations that may have large quantities of copper wire."

Mattingly said three people from Oklahoma were arrested last week after they came to Wichita to burglarize a Westar substation. Deputies stopped a pickup near K-254 and 143rd St. Dec. 3, and arrested a 24-year-old woman on traffic charges. A 31-year-old man and 33-year-old man were arrested a few hours later while they were trying to enter the pickup after the woman's arrest.

The three suspects were booked for burglary and criminal trespass.

Sedgwick county is working on an online app that will track these metal thefts and other crimes. It will be free and available for anyone to use. There are plans to roll it out early next year.