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Copper Theft Costing Kentucky Taxpayers Millions

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It’s a risky crime that involves a lot of know-how and planning to pull off, but copper theft on Kentucky’s highways is on the rise.

And Kentucky State Police and the state Transportation Cabinet are stepping up efforts to combat it.

The thieves have struck at least 37 times in only the last 10 months, bumping the total cost to taxpayers to $2M over the last four years. The target: generally six-gauge wire that connects entrance and exit ramp lights on interstate highways.

KYTC Acting Inspector General Mike Duncan says Kentucky is dealing with experienced criminals.

"In Carter County in September of this year, they stole the wire from all four ramps... 25,000 feet of copper wire," he says. "That would lead you to believe they know what they're doing."

That wire generally sells for about $2.25 a pound.

Duncan says the perpetrators generally strike between midnight and 4 a.m. He urges anyone who notices suspicious activity to call the KSP hotline at (800) 222-5555 or text 67283 with information.

Useful tips can lead to a $2,500 reward.