A Resident Phone Call Leads to Copper Theft Arrest

Posted at: 12/04/2012 7:00 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 News) -- Two people are in jail after the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department caught them red handed stealing copper wire. A call about a suspicious vehicle near an Eyota power sub-station, helped sheriff's deputies make the arrest.
In the past few months the sheriff's department has seen a rise in scrapper thefts in rural areas like this.

"We're seeing at least a couple a week," said Sgt. Tom Claymon.

When they got a call about a suspicious vehicle near a People's Co-Op power sub-station Monday night they took it seriously.

"In the wake of recent tower thefts and other station break ins they felt this was very suspicious behavior," said Sgt. Claymon.

After finding two thousand dollars’ worth of copper wire in the vehicle, they arrested 33-year-old Michael Thanghe and 24-year-old Amber Janovski both of Faribault.

"That voltage is at 69,000 volts so it's a very dangerous situation in that case," said People’s Co-op engineer Gary Fitterer.

He says besides being incredibly dangerous, these thefts are frustrating.

"We will need to go back and repair that, so there's a cost involved there and interruption to our members," said Fitterer.

Just four days earlier a crime alert had been put out on Thanghe and Janovski after a recycling center in Lakeville grew suspicious. The sheriff's department says that combined with the vigilant community member that called in, is exactly what needs to happen to catch more of these thieves.

"We were able to catch somebody red handed, it speaks to the community actually calling and to the good police work to the officers on the scene," said Sgt. Claymon.

More than six communication towers have seen scrapper thefts in the past two months. Again law enforcement is asking the community to be on the watch for suspicious activity near these sites.

Thanghe and Janovski are facing charges of 1st degree damage to property.