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Quarry owner offers reward in $20,000 copper theft

Friday, January 3, 2014

A local quarry owner is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever stole about $20,000 worth of copper wire from him earlier this week.

J.W. Strack, owner of Strack Stone Co. on Highway 74, said the copper was in front of his house at the quarry when it vanished sometime Sunday or Monday night.

"I live right there at the quarry," he said. "I mean, I'm right there, and they stole it out from under my nose."

The wire was gone by Tuesday morning, Strack said.

"It was over probably 6,000 pounds of scrap copper if they scrapped it out," he said. "It was good, usable copper, most of it."

Strack said he has talked to several people who have had copper wire stolen from them recently.

"It's gotten to be a pretty big deal. They're doing it during the daylight and everything, people's telling me," he said.

In the past year, Cape Girardeau police have reported at least 19 instances of copper wire theft.

In September, a would-be copper thief broke into an electrical substation in Miner, Mo., and tried to cut through a 7,200-volt line in an attempt to steal about $30 worth of wire -- a move officials said endangered both the person trying to steal the wire and the power company employee who had to repair the damage.

Lt. Eric Friedrich of the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department said theft tends to rise and fall with the price of copper.

In 2011 and 2012, prices exceeded $3 a pound for bare copper, he said, making it a particularly attractive target for thieves, who targeted empty houses and even farmers' irrigation systems, causing extensive damage.

"The price of copper doesn't come ... close to what it would take to rewire a house," Friedrich said.

Although he didn't have specific numbers, Friedrich said copper theft reports have been down since the price dropped. Copper brings $2.50 to $2.80 a pound locally, he said.

"We didn't take nearly the amount of reports we took probably in 2012 and 2011. When the prices go up, it seems like they know about it, and they go out and start stealing it," he said.

Friedrich said copper theft is difficult to detect.

State law requires sellers to present photo identification if they sell $50 worth of copper or more, but many thieves simply take the metal out of the area to sell it or divide it up into smaller amounts and take it to several places, Friedrich said.

"It's hard to say where all of it goes," he said.

Copper is more likely to be stolen if it is out in plain view, Friedrich said.

"If you've got this large abundance of copper wire sitting around, it needs to be somewhere (inside). It doesn't need to be outside," he said.

Strack said the theft this week was the second time he has been hit by thieves in the past year.

"I'm a little bit upset," he said.

Strack said the theft didn't just cost him money; it hurt his employees.

"Things are tough anyway, and we're trying to see how our fiscal year ended up -- you know, bonuses and stuff -- and that's going to take a big chunk out of it," he said.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Strack at 335-9430 or the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department at 243-3551.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Highway 74, Cape Girardeau County, Mo.


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Won't Strack's insurance pay for theft? His staff's bonuses shouldn't be affected

-- Posted by wuzthinking on Thu, Jan 2, 2014, at 5:47 PM

wuzthinking: Just like consumer insurance commercial insurance policies all have deductibles that must be meet, and often include a percentage that the business must pay beyond the deductible up to a certain maximum.

Even with the best and most expensive commercial policies Strack is likely out of pocket 1k-5k. Assuming a more typical scenario given the expensive quarrying equipment and the hazardous nature of the quarrying business I wouldn't be surprised if his deductibles might be 25k-100k in which case he will have to eat this entire loss without his insurer paying a dime.

-- Posted by Nil on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 3:57 AM

Who cares if his insurance pays it all, the person who did this still needs to be caught.

-- Posted by mo55 on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 8:55 AM

maybe our law enforcement should check our buyers in the area. I know for a fact that Top's metal recycling does not check ID on everyone including me. Sides on the other hand gets copy of my license every time I go in with copper and I have known owner for 20 years. I have had copper and batteries stolen and have never known of the police asking recylers any questions and I understand that proving it was your copper would be hard to prove.

-- Posted by Bussy on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 8:55 AM

"State law requires sellers to present photo identification if they sell $50 worth of copper or more..."

Common sense would suggest that LEOs would be checking copper buyers records, within a 150-200 mile radius.

-- Posted by Iscariot on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 9:59 AM

How big is a $20k roll of copper wire? I am imagining huge. It says maybe 6,000 lbs scrapped. How do you not know someone is loading up that much stuff in front of your house? In my house, sometimes I can hear someone slam a car door from down the street. Wouldn't this have caused a noisy ruckus?

-- Posted by TommyStix on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 11:34 AM

Gotta be more to the story---which, as always, goes without saying?

That having been said: I've got to go with TOMMYSTIX, here. Maybe he wasn't home, as in, gone for an-extended time. But even then---3-TONS of copper? Almost had to use something other than elbow-grease, and it certainly wasn't hauled away in only one-trip. If so, it definitely was larger than an-"average" pickup...

-- Posted by donknome-2 on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 12:11 PM

Why wasn't some sort of tie down, alarm system or a guard dog in place or such a pricey product?

-- Posted by GoneHunt'nAgain on Sun, Jan 5, 2014, at 1:23 PM

$200 security cameras would be a good investment. Sam's Club.

-- Posted by GoneHunt'nAgain on Sun, Jan 5, 2014, at 1:25 PM


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