August 22, 2007 / 4:24 PM / in 10 years

Embarq offers $5,000 reward copper theft arrests

2 Min Read

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. rural telecommunications carrier Embarq Corp is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone stealing its copper cables in Las Vegas amid a global crime spree targeting increasingly valuable metals.

Embarq said on Wednesday that copper cable theft has become a growing problem, particularly in Las Vegas, its largest market, where thieves have snipped away part of its aerial lines.

"Copper theft is going on in any town across the nation. But we thought we'd start here because of the high number of incidents," said Embarq spokesman Charles Fleckenstein.

The company, a spin-off from Sprint Nextel Corp, has already spent $400,000 so far this year to repair severed cable lines in Las Vegas, he said.

More than 60 people have been arrested in Las Vegas so far this year for stealing copper. Officials believe the stolen metal is sold as scrap to recycling centers.

The price of copper has more than doubled over the past two years as rapid industrialization in China and other emerging economies spurred demand and triggered similar crimes around the world.

Embarq has said severed cable lines could cut off emergency communications, putting entire communities at risk. Fleckenstein said dozens of people in the United States have been electrocuted in an attempt to cut through wires.

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