$100k Worth of Buried Copper Stolen from Rail Line

By Anthony Ponce and Shawna Prince
|  Friday, Nov 5, 2010  |  Updated 7:45 PM CDT
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The Northwest Indiana Commuter Transit District is asking for the public's help in finding the persons responsible for more than $100,000 in thefts of copper from the South Shore commuter rail line's properties.

The Northwest Indiana Commuter Transit District is asking for the public's help in finding the persons responsible for more than $100,000 in thefts of copper from the South Shore commuter rail line's properties.

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The Northwest Indiana Commuter Transit District is asking for the public's help in finding the persons responsible for more than $100,000 in thefts of copper from the South Shore commuter rail line's properties.

There have been 15 separate incidents of theft reported since Aug. 30th, costing the rail line $100,000, authorities said.

The thieves have been digging and uprooting hundreds of feet of thick copper cable at a time, risking electrocution and being hit by a train, police said.

"It's a lot of manual labor, but when they take it to the scrap dealers, they're collecting about $2.75 a foot, and that can amount to a lot of money," said NICTD Police Chief Robert Byrd.

The Railway Track & Structures report the cables in question are about 1.25 inches in diameter and are 150 to 200 feet long. They're used to power switches and signals along the South Shore Commuter rail line.

NICTD officials believe the thieves may remove the insulated coating and disassemble the cable into shorter strands to make it less recognizable when they sell it for cash.

"Our message to the thieves is: we are going to arrest you," said Byrd.

Anyone who has information on the thefts who notices anything suspicious along the South Shore tracks should contact police at 219-398-6000. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the thieves.

Last month, century-old letters were stolen off a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed temple in Oak Park. Authorities believe the 58 letters taken were also sold for scrap.

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