SPENCER — Medina County sheriff’s deputies caught two Lodi men suspected of stealing copper wire Monday strung on poles that run along the railroad in the village.
Sheriff’s Lt. Matthew Linscott said a resident claimed at around 8:30 a.m. that two men were stealing the copper by climbing up approximately 7-foot-tall poles near the Wheeling and Lake Erie tracks.
“When they saw the deputies, they ran into the wood lines and hid from us,” Linscott said.
Eric Gilbert, 28, of 202 Elyria St., and Jeffrey Daugherty, 29, of 206 Prospect St., were found and charged with criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree felony, and breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony.
Linscott said they received the criminal trespassing charges because they allegedly drove onto the grounds of Spencer Self-Storage, 405 E. Main St., and hid their car between the storage units while they went after the copper.
A Medina County Jail spokesman said Gilbert and Daugherty were being held there Monday afternoon and their bond had not yet been set.
Bill Callison, president of Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway, said his company has seen incidents of copper thefts from its lines, which run through Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“We see it unfortunately too often when the price of copper goes up,” he said.
The copper once was used for a centralized traffic control system that helped maintain signals for rail traffic. That system has been abandoned, he said, “but that doesn’t mean people can come and take it.”
“Our greatest concern is safety,” he said. “If you are off harvesting wire, you get in the way of trains coming and there is a safety concern.”
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.