Suspected copper thief arrested, admits to over 70 cases

Suspected copper thief arrested, admits to over 70 cases »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A suspected thief trades copper wire for iron bars. The man is accused of dozens of copper thefts around Yakima. It's not just wrong and it's dangerous.

Charged with theft, Glenn Leonard has chosen to cooperate with YPD. He's leading police to more than 70 spots where he admits stealing copper wire from utility lines, but he didn't suddenly find a conscience. Leonard learned he can be held liable if anyone's hurt by a live wire he cut. Pacific Power says this type of theft causes a number of problems, and could even electrocute someone.

“The voltage going into their house might not be correct, or live wire may go down, and our protection system may not operate properly. So there’s just a tremendous hazard to the public anytime someone tampers and takes a part of our system," said Pacific Power’s Regional Manager Clark Satre.

Leonard told police he cut lines near the Tahoma Cemetery, Tieton, Franklin Park, and even as far as Wiley. Homeowner Patrick Lewis lives off 19th.

Lewis said, “We'd been having power surges in the middle of the night late at night where the power would blink off and on. The power company guy said that was probably from them cutting lines around the area."

Lewis says one day he spotted the thief red-handed.

"I see a pole sticking up above the neighbor's garage... saw the power lines moving and then I heard a big twang," said Lewis.

Lewis managed to pick Leonard out of a line-up. Action News asked if he got a good look at the thief.

“Oh yeah I was ten feet from him when he got in his truck," said Lewis.

Leonard was booked into jail on charges of theft, reckless endangerment and malicious mischief.

Residents here in this neighborhood say they're glad Leonard was caught but that unfortunately he isn't the first person to steal copper from power lines and certainly isn't going to be the last.

Police think Leonard stole the copper to support a methamphetamine habit. However, they say his cooperation helped them discovered several lines that need to be fixed. Detectives plan to go out with Leonard again tomorrow.