The Benwood Police Department's efforts to crack down on copper theft resulted in the arrest of three people early Tuesday at the Benwood Industrial Park.
Police Chief Frank Longwell said the arrests came at 1:30 a.m. after officers allegedly found Michael Posey, 30, Luther Waryck, 24, and Sara Waryck, 24, all of Bellaire, cutting copper wire from old machinery left in the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plant. They are charged with breaking and entering.
"These people do not realize that some of those wires are still hot and they could easily be electrocuted," Longwell said. "They must have been grounded properly because they cut into a 440-volt line."
Longwell said cutting into copper wire can be a very dangerous and risky business.
"It's not worth a person's life to risk a chance of being electrocuted over $50 worth of copper," he said.
According to Longwell, copper theft at the industrial park has been a huge problem for the past six months. Such thefts can cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage, he noted.
"We have installed surveillance cameras there and we have undercover officers working in unmarked vehicles," Longwell said.
Longwell said his department is also investigating scrap buyers who are paying money for the stolen copper.
"Scrap buyers should question sellers and get copies of their drivers' license or personal IDs," he said. "A lot of them do not do that. They need to know there are laws against buying stolen property."
A Marshall County magistrate set bond at $1,500 for each of the three defendants.