LUMBERTON — A Pembroke man has been charged with breaking into a Lumberton substation on Wednesday and stealing $6,500 worth of copper.
James Everette Jacobs, 40, of 502 Breece Street in Pembroke, was arrested on Thursday and charged with larceny, second-degree trespassing and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Robeson County jail records. He is being held on a $13,280 bond.
A deputy who was patrolling the Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation substation at 1560 Pine Log Road happened upon the break-in, according to sheriff’s Capt. Anthony Thompson.. Jacobs had cut the station’s fence to gain entry to the wires, Thompson said. A second person was able to flee.
The theft is just one in the “rash of break-ins” that have plagued LREMC substations in Robeson County since July 30, according to Thompson. He said $45,000 worth of copper has been stolen during those break-ins.
The Pine Log Road substation has been broken into three other times. On July 30, thieves took copper wire valued at $1,000; on July 31, wire valued at $4,500 was taken; on Aug. 7, 300 feet of wire valued at $1,500 was stolen.
“If I had to put it all together, I’d say the same people are responsible,” Thompson said.
n A substation at 231 Diary Road in Red Springs was broken into on Aug. 3, when 150 feet of wire valued at $1,000 was stolen. Also on Aug. 3, wire valued at $500 was taken from a substation at 735 E. Powersville Road.
n At an N.C. 711 substation, copper wire valued at $1,000 was taken on Aug. 1. The next night, the thieves returned to take $26,000 of copper.
n On Aug. 7, copper wire valued at $3,000 was taken from a substation at 1259 Wire Grass Road.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, copper theft and copper prices have been directly linked since the beginning of 2004, when the price for copper began to rise.
Thompson said thieves often take copper to a salvage yard, where it is sold for cash, but that sheriff’s deputies have not seen any copper turning up at local salvage yards.
“We’re not sure where it’s being taken at this point,” he said.