Copper Raid in Bayfield County

By KBJR News 1

February 1, 2012 Updated Feb 1, 2012 at 2:04 PM CDT

Bayfield County, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Three men are in custody after a third raid of copper in Northwest Wisconsin.

Friday morning greeted employees at the Bayfield County Electrical Coop with an open window, open cupboards and no copper. Copper wire spools from all the trucks had been stolen the night before.

In this situation, the thieves would have had to have climbed from the ground to the window, a distance of nearly nine feet where they then used crow bars to pry themselves into the window and have free reign to the garage where all they wanted was copper.

"All they wanted was copper. I mean they passed up brand new chain saws that were in the trucks. They didn't steal the chain saws it was just the copper wires cause it's all they wanted. It seems that's all they wanted and that was the same thing in Mellon. At the Mellon shop they actually even used some of our good expensive tools to take the copper off of the trucks," said Hank Meierotto, operations manager at Bayfield Electric.

This isn't the first time this company has been hit by copper thieves. It has happened twice before, most recently just five months ago at their other location in Mellon, WI

"Last September in October our Mellon Shop down in High Bridge was broken into and they believe it was the same people that broke into our Iron River shop last Thursday night," said General Manager Diane Berweger.

Raids for copper are becoming more common as the value goes up. Authorities said they notice more cabins are being broken into for their copper pipes throughout the Northwest Wisconsin region. The heist Thursday night has employees in Iron River fearing their safety.

"I guess we've come to where it is in the cities. You know we used to be up here in the north country you didn't worry about stuff like that. You didn't have that problem, but it's getting worse and worse and now we're going to have to start taking better precautions," said Meierotto.

Berweger said cameras and a security system will be installed in the near future in an attempt to prevent further thefts.

Authorities said they are still looking for one more suspect in the copper raids. Police have not yet identified the three suspects they have in custody.