The Monett Jaycees have been hit by area copper thieves, and as a result, the organization is having to host a series of fundraisers to replace wiring needed to run the annual Jaycees Carnival.
Thieves struck the storage building where the cables are stored sometime on Sunday, Jan. 6 or early Monday, Jan. 7. When workers from Kay Concrete arrived at work, one noticed the door of the building hanging open and notified authorities.
According to Jonathan Hagar, Jaycees chapter president, the cost to replace the wiring stolen will run between $1,200 and $2,500.
"The suspect has probably burned the insulation off the wire and sold the bare copper," said Lt. Greg Brandsma, of the Monett Police Department. "That seems to be the direction they are taking."
Brandsma said it was difficult to identify the wiring gauge once the insulation had been removed.
"Copper wire is one of the frequent items taken to scrap yards," Brandsma said. "We're checking several in the southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas areas to see if they have received a large amount of wire."
Brandsma said it is typical of thieves to dispose of stolen property away from the location where it was taken to prevent suspicion when crimes are reported.
"We did get a photograph of a footprint at the scene," Brandsma said. "It appears as if the person or persons went in and cut the wire overnight."
Cleaned copper wire is averaging per pound from $3.05 in Springfield, $2.95 in Joplin and $2.80 in Monett. Scrap metal recyclers require photo identification for all transactions. Larger operations automatically enter all transactions over $50 into a database accessible to law enforcement officials for investigative purposes.
Brandsma cautions area residents to keep a sharp eye on uninhabited houses or outbuildings.
"We are seeing individuals come in to an abandoned garage or home and strip the wire out," he said. "They'll take anything they can get."
Residents are urged to report suspicious activity to the Monett Police Department at 235-4241.