KYTC offering reward for info about copper wire thefts

Published 12:30 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is reminding the public of the $5,000 reward being offered in the ongoing battle against thieves who are continuing to steal copper wire from interstate highway lighting systems.

Copper thefts in KYTC District 5, which includes Bullitt, Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties, have occurred within spans along most major interstates, with the Louisville Metro area being impacted especially hard by the heist. The reward for information leading to arrests and prosecution of the thieves, whose crimes have caused $750,000 in damages, is still being offered.

The Cabinet is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Homeland Security and the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) to spread the word that copper wire theft from highway lights endangers the public, puts motorists at risk and costs Kentucky taxpayers. The thieves also run a risk, as high voltage in the lines could result in electrocution.

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Kentuckians can utilize the following resources:

  • Report any information about wire thefts at Kentucky interchanges to the KYTC Office of Inspector General’s Office at 502-330-7506. If your information leads to an arrest and conviction, you may be eligible for the reward.
  • In the Louisville area, report active crimes or suspicious activity to local law enforcement (LMPD) by calling 502-574-LMPD (5673) or by utilizing the online crime tip portal.
  • Report dark intersections to the KYTC Traffic Operations Center by calling 877-FOR-KYTC.

In 2014, a rash of copper wire thefts occurred along interstates and parkways in central Kentucky. A $2,500 reward was offered by KYTC and Kentucky State Police, prompting an informant to come forward. Two residents of Clark County ultimately were arrested, indicted and pleaded guilty to a combination of misdemeanor and felony theft charges.

Culprits break into lighting systems and junction boxes to pull, cut and strip the wires. They often look to sell the scrap metal to recycling facilities in and out of the state. With damage exceeding $3,000, the thief or thieves could face Class D felony charges, which carry possible prison sentences of up to five years. To deter theft, state law requires recycling centers to obtain identification of sellers and a certified statement as to the sources of the scrap metal being sold.