Meet the Alleged Copper Thieves Who Butt-Dialed 911 Mid-Crime
A 911 dispatcher tipped off police while listening to two Lufkin men discuss the copper they were reportedly stealing. Oops.
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Looks like we may have a couple more “bum steers” on our hands. And we mean that literally this time.
Two Lufkinites, Charles Williamson, 30, and Kevin Williamson, 32, were allegedly stealing copper wire and aluminum from a construction site when one of the men unintentionally “butt-dialed” 911.
Once an emergency dispatcher answered, the men were discussing the execution of their alleged crime. According to KTRE, one of the men spoke about the worth of the copper wiring during the call.
“Based on the conversation, the dispatcher was able to figure out their location and that they were driving away from the scene of the alleged crime as officers neared the area,” crime reporter Jessica Cooley wrote for the Lufkin Daily News, citing a police report.
It didn’t take long for local authorities to find their vehicle, where they pulled them over and eventually retrieved the stolen items. The men were then arrested and charged with state jail felony theft, Cooley wrote.
Texas lawmakers passed a bill last September to establish copper theft as a more severe crime. KTEN reported that Texas Senate Bill 694 would “protect the property of homeowners and utility companies” by requiring people to have documentation “when bringing A/C units or other copper materials to a scrap yard.”
Last year, Austinist also mentioned that copper thefts were on the rise, and particularly in Texas. Copper now sells for $3.35 per pound, according to Coinflation – a meaningful increase from the metal’s 2009 price of $1.25 per pound.
In a February 2011 story for The New York Times, Timothy Williams found that thieves were looking to ordinary items such as “catalytic converters from automobiles and copper wiring that is being stripped out of overhead power lines, tornado warning sirens, [and] coal mines and foreclosed homes where [they] sometimes tear down walls to get to copper pipes and wiring” to make quick cash by selling the metal to scrap yards.
Unfortunately the Lufkin men, who both have extensive criminal records in Angelina County, probably won’t be cashing checks anytime soon, as they sit in jail awaiting bond.
We’ve all pocket dialed, but c’mon. Free advice for the alleged criminals: keep your phone locked next time.