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Geiger’s Counter: Rampant copper thieves must be stopped

©The Herald-Gazette/ This information may not be reprinted, broadcast or distributed electronically in any form or fashion without express consent. For reprint permission, e-mail Dirtbags of all description are running rampant, destroying vacant homes, electrical substations, construction sites, vehicles and even cell towers to get at metal – primarily copper – that they sell off. Most use the proceeds to buy drugs. One hot morning last summer, the air conditioning failed to kick in at one of our offices. We soon found that one air conditioning coil was gone and another damaged. This theft took place right below a security light. A repairman later told us the thieves would have gotten the second unit but one took a significant electrical shock and they ran off before finishing the job. How I would have loved to discover the thief twitching beside that unit but it was not to be. Dennis Martin Williams of Griffin was not so fortunate. Williams, 46, was atop one of the abandoned Dundee Mills buildings in Griffin just before Christmas ripping copper wire out of air conditioning units when he came in contact with some high voltage and was electrocuted. He laid atop the roof for several days until family members came clean to police about his thievery and possible whereabouts. It’s hard to mourn Williams. His death was the natural selection process at work. Metal thievery is so common because the thieves are not punished severely enough. We filled out tons of paperwork for the courts in our case in hopes of restitution but have not received a penny. I have seen at least two of those involved in our theft walking the streets unpunished since. Some justice! Our units are now surrounded by concertina wire. In that there is inherently no method by which to protect all the properties these thieves hit, authorities must crack down on those who buy copper wire and dole out swift, severe punishment there. You cannot convince me these people don’t realize something is up when people turn up at their places of business with hundreds of feet of copper wire. Copper wire does not grow wild like kudzu. These people know it is stolen but apparently just don’t care. They are aiding and abetting criminals, should face criminal charges for it and do some time in the big house. Of course, this is unlikely to happen in our weak-on-crime society. The occupy crowd will praise them as being part of the 99% and pat them on the back for ‘sticking it to the man.’ Liberals will gloss over the crime, arguing they stole to feed their children. It’s sickening but it’s reality! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazete and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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