Copper thieves targeting South Georgia irrigation pivots - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Copper thieves targeting South Georgia irrigation pivots

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In the last month, five farmers in Dougherty County alone have reported copper thieves stripped more than six thousand feet of wire off their pivots.  And it will cost more than 40 thousand dollars to repair that damage. Investigators say they expect more victims to come forward in the coming weeks.

As he prepares to plant cotton, Stuart Jones discovered four of his irrigation pivots had been hit by copper thieves.

Jones said "We had to come over and start getting the land ready, and then we noticed the wire was gone again. Third time."

Four irrigation pivots stripped, probably in the last three months. More than 3200 feet of wire, and it's estimated to cost 30,000 dollars to repair.

Jones said "It's aggravating. I can't even move my pivots, so I'm out here trying to get the land ready, and all the wires off the pivots. So I can't move them. It's a real big headache."

Dougherty County Police Detective Chad Kirkpatrick says thieves want the irrigation wire because it has so much copper.

Kirkpatrick said "This is what they call 11 strand wire or span cable. It's got 11 different types of wire on the inside."

And all 11 wires have casing around them, so usually they have to burn the cables to separate the copper. He says he expects to hear from more victims soon.

Kirkpatrick said "I do. I do. Most of the time once they start, most of the time they don't stop until they are caught."

Kirkpatrick is working with Investigators in Worth and Mitchell County, where many more thefts have been discovered, to see if the same thieves are involved. Three times hit by copper thieves is enough, Jones is increasing his security around his pivots.

 Jones said "We're looking into putting some surveillance cameras up now. Is what we are going to have to do. That's the only way we know to deter it."

Jones has insurance, but his deductible is high. And he worries that the cost of coverage may go too high if he continues to be targeted by thieves.

Two men were arrested for stealing the copper wire off Jones' pivots last year, and he was not happy that they only served a couple of months in jail.

Police and farmers are asking South Georgians to help fight this copper theft problem. If you see someone around an irrigation pivot, especially at night, call 9-1-1 or your law enforcement agency.


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