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Thieves go to great heights for copper

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Copper thieves are now going to great heights to steal, yanking wiring from some of the tallest structures overlooking the countryside.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said the thieves are targeting cellphone towers and even wind turbines, risking jail or death for just a few dollars.

There are more than 40 turbines and nearly a dozen cellphone towers from Avoca to Council Bluffs, and it’s a problem for authorities.

“They try to patrol, but there’s so many of them in such rural areas,” said Danker. “It’s hard to patrol all of them.”

Law enforcement officers have only had a small amount of luck catching thieves in the act.

Deputies responding to the alarm at the cell tower near the Lewis and Clark Monument first saw a vehicle in the gravel parking lot. Then they noticed two men at the top of the tower.

David Jay and Bradley Ott were arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief and burglary.

Deputies said Jay was wearing gloves and gear to help keep him from falling.

Danker believes other thieves could strike again, and he wants the public to help stop them in their tracks.

“It’s very dangerous, and like many copper thefts, they’re getting very little, but it costs thousands of dollars to replace,” Danker said.

If you see a suspicious vehicle or people near a cell tower or wind turbine, call 911. The Sheriff’s Office said it would rather respond to a false alarm than miss out on catching a crook.

Anyone with information on recent thefts can call 712-890-2200.