An overnight copper theft at a Grand River Dam Authority substation resulted in three men facing felony charges.
Records filed in the case show that GRDA officers responded to the Catoosa substation owned by GRDA, and PSO/AEP where a copper ground wire theft had been reported.
Officers were told 500-ft of wire had been stolen and they later determined it had been sold to Yaffe Metals.
During the course of the investigation, officers viewed a surveillance video in which three men—John Pierce, Matthew Tarbox and Albert Badger—were seen pushing a cart containing copper wire into the elevator of a Tulsa apartment building.
John Pierce was arrested first, records show, and a search of his vehicle yielded numerous tools commonly used in burglaries, and a copper ground rod.
A search warrant of his phone revealed conversations about breaking into and stealing copper from substations, records show. Officers located photographs of copper on the cell phone as well. Pierce reportedly told investigators that he and Badger broke into the Catoosa substation and that Tarbox broke into the substation the next day.
“He stated that he and Badger cut the fence and padlock on the front gate to the Catoosa substation to gain entry in the night hours,” records show. “He stated that he and Badger took copper wire and attempted to take a generator that did not fit the vehicle and was therefor left behind.”
According to Pierce, though, this wasn’t the first substation copper theft he had been involved in.
He reportedly told investigators he was involved in burglary and copper theft at the following substations:
•Collinsville substation with Tarbox
•Nowata substation with Tarbox
•Catoosa substation with Badger
•Morrow Road substation in Sand Springs with Tarbox
•South Sheridan substation near 41st St., Tulsa
During later interviews Badger describes cutting a hole in the substation fence and cutting the wire off of the towers in the Catoosa substation. He reportedly describes cutting it into smaller pieces and selling it.
All three are facing felony counts of entering with intent to steal copper and conspiracy.