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Copper Wire Thieves Target Local Manufacturing Business - KOAM TV 7

Copper Wire Thieves Target Local Manufacturing Business

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Joplin, MO -

Copper wire thieves target a steel manufacturing plant that has operated in Joplin for more than fifty years. But the costs of the crime are compounded by the vandalism required to get it and police say it’s not an easy crime to solve.

Copper wire is found in insulated cords to  all kinds of manufacturing equipment at Quality Manufacturing in Joplin on Maiden Lane.

Owner Jerry Keifer says thieves, “Came to this machine with wire cutters and they cut the plasma gun, they took and cut the ground for it and they took and cut the power cord in the back of the machine.”

Broken bricks pulled from a back wall give clues to how thieves worked to get inside, crawling through a tight space.

Police say typically stealing copper wire is a crime of opportunity.

 Sergeant Rusty Rives with the Joplin Police Departments says, "Construction sites are a big area for that. There’s mass amounts of copper wire laying around and when Empire is working on a project.  Another good source for that is air conditioning, outdoor heating and cooling units,  those are a great source of copper wire and they're accessible to thieves."

One plasma cutter alone at Quality is worth eighteen  hundred dollars and a  bucket full of cords is what thieves hoped to take, but must have gotten spooked and left it behind. Still the damage was done to the machinery once the cords were cut.

Keifer says, "It’s gonna cost me more to replace all these power cords than the machine is worth." It’s taken our welding machines away from us. They just  cannibalized them by taking all the power cords off."

Other cords were taken along with copper welding tips considered valuable to scrap.  Damages could top five thousand dollars for Keifer.

The thieves pulled siding off an adjacent business on Keifer's property and caused similar damage there.

Stealing copper wire is a crime that happens regularly. There were seven  cases in May, five  in June and now five in July.

Sgt. Rives says, "It’s a hard crime to solve in that you don't know where the wire is coming from. It’s disposed of very quickly. Even if you find someone with a lot of wire with them, you never know where it came from. It’s hard to trace it back to a particular crime."

   Keifer plans to add a security system but says even added outdoor lighting has not deterred thieves who have already targeted the neighboring business several times.

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