WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 01, 2010, 08:33 AM

Law enforcement investigates theft of copper in Gardner

Gardner, ND (WDAY TV) - Thousands of dollars worth of copper has been stolen just north of Fargo. The Cass County sheriff's office is investigating the theft of 600 to 700 pounds of new copper magnet wire from a work shed in Gardner. No leads yet, but some law enforcement have an idea of how they can fix that in the future.

It's a road not often traveled and today, not one Julian Jodock wants to be on as he examines evidence of a crime committed sometime in the last two weeks. 8 spools of brand new copper wire he planned on using the build wind generators stolen from his shed.

Dan Hermann/Cass County Sheriff's Deputy: “I'm sure it will continue. They're looking for targets.”

The market price for copper jumped about 25 cents in the last few weeks, now at about three dollars and fifty cents per pound. Local scrap metal buyers are paying between 2 and 3 dollars. We couldn't even get a local scrap metal dealer to let us see their copper, some saying they're afraid that would attract thieves.

Sgt. Mitch Burris: “It’s extremely difficult. It affects such a wide range of people. We want to make it stop.”

Sgt. Mitch Burris says to do that north Dakota needs to require people selling copper to show ID and log their trade.

Burris: “If I am going to look for 600-700 pounds of stolen material and low and behold in the same time frame, 6-700 pounds of scrap metal shows up, that is a good lead.”

Minnesota requires that, but an effort three years ago in North Dakota was shut down. One local scrap metal dealer says we shouldn't burden everyone with extra work because of a few people's bad decisions, but Burris points out this idea worked for curbing meth in our area.

Burris: “When we started to limit the amount of pseudophedrin and we made people sign their names for it and show a photo ID, our labs went significantly down so why not in this area?”

He says a group from Cass County plans to push a new law during the next legislative session.

Until then, Julian hopes for other leads to find his missing valuable copper. Officials say there may be a connection between this theft and two others in Gardner that occurred two weeks ago.