Found with nearly 3000 pounds of stolen copper wire!

An electrician from Austin, Texas in America has been charged with stealing a massive amount of electrical copper wiring from a school he was working on from February 20th to April 16th 2013.

Charles Mark Stribling, 47, was first found out by police who stopped his van after spotting the electrician parking up in Hill Country Recycling Centre. They found that Stribling had 311 pounds of the copper wire in his truck at the time.

Stribling then tried to lie to the police, claiming that he had the permission of his superintendent to remove the wiring from the project. The police then followed up on his claim and called the superintendent in question, who stated that he had given permission for Stribling to take 40 to 50 pounds of the old wiring, but nowhere near the quantity found in his van.

Further investigation by the police also found that Stribling had in fact stolen another 2197 pounds worth of copper wire from the same job in the past, and his relatives – who claim they didn’t know the wiring is stolen – sold the rest of the wiring to the Hill Country Recycling Centre.

Stribling was stopped again by the police on April 17th, where he was found once again with 800 pounds of the wiring in the back of his truck. He was originally stopped for speeding, and he told police at this point that he has been fired by CEC Electrical, who employed him for the school project, on April 15th.

The second encounter led to Stribling’s arrest and he is currently in jail on $10000 bail. When questioned by the police why he had the wire in his truck despite telling officers the last time he had sold it, he said “I lied. What do you want me to say?”

Copper wiring sells for a premium, and the theft of the material from old buildings and installations is becoming increasingly more common. Criminals take the wiring from a location and sell it on to recycling plants and scrapyards, netting themselves a tidy profit in the process.

The problem is rife both in the UK and other countries such as the US, where criminals are making a career out of stealing copper. It’s an extremely dangerous process both for the criminal and those who are left to deal with the aftermath – criminals run the risk of accidentally touching live wires and dying by electrical shock, while removing the wiring could cause fires, cause electrical shock or power down large areas.