Williamsburg police say a thief or thieves have apparently stolen thousands of dollars worth of copper wire from communications towers in recent days.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that the thefts apparently took place between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning.
Bird said that police began investigating after getting a report that thieves had struck New Wave’s tower Tuesday.
"Apparently they hit New Wave pretty hard and did quite a bit of damage," Bird said.
While police were investigating that theft, they checked the 911, T-Mobile and Bluegrass Cellular towers, which were also close by and discovered that thieves struck there as well.
"It appears what they did on the radio towers was cut all the ground cables, which makes the towers real susceptible to lightening strikes," Bird said.
"We went across King Mountain and checked our tower site and Verizon’s tower and they hit both of them."
Bird said that 911 dispatchers informed him that several tower sites south of Williamsburg had also been hit by thieves.
Last week, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife had a tower site struck by thieves, Bird said.
"They wiped out Fish and Wildlife’s communications over there stealing copper," Bird said. "It is actually becoming pretty dangerous, especially for emergency personnel.
"If we are out on a bad call and the copper thieves disable the tower then somebody’s life may depend on it."
Bird said that Williamsburg police haven’t experienced any disruptions with communications, but that this could happen due to the damage.
"I don’t think any of the cellular sites had any disruption with communications, but New Wave, I understand, went down," he said.
Bird estimates that at least seven towers have been struck in Whitley County.
He said that thieves apparently also struck several towers in the London area, but he doesn’t know if the two are related or if the price of copper has just gone back up and the drug users are desperate.
"This copper theft is getting out of control," Bird said. "Scrap yards are out of control. There has to be something done to regulate it some how."
He said some additional regulations have been placed on scrap yards, such as checking identification and keeping logs, but that it hasn’t slowed down metal thefts.
Williamsburg Police Detective Bobby Freeman is investigating the case, and hopes to have a dollar figure on the damage in a few days, Bird said.