Police nab suspect in H-1 copper thefts
DOT workers notice evidence of thievery, spurring a stakeout
A stakeout paid off for state sheriffs working with the Department of Transportation to catch copper thieves in the act.
In custody yesterday was a 43-year-old man who allegedly tried to steal copper wire from a light pole on the H-1 freeway in Makakilo.
"He was caught red-handed," said Tammy Mori, Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
The suspect had not been charged as of last night.
Over the last few years, copper thieves have darkened corridors west of Kunia on H-1 and along H-2 to Mililani by ripping out wires from the light poles.
Mori said a DOT crew checked the area last week and noticed someone opened a pull box for a light pole. There were "red flags" that the culprits planned to return, so they alerted the sheriffs, she said.
Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said sheriffs "watched the area for a few hours and then observed an individual in the act of stealing the copper wire."
Sheriffs turned the man over to police about 4 a.m.
Copper theft is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The suspect has 15 convictions, mostly misdemeanors.