New device stops copper thieves in the act - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New device stops copper thieves in the act

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Copper thieves were stopped and caught in the act in Butler County, Missouri.

Three people now face felony trespassing and property damage charges for allegedly trying to swipe copper from farm equipment on Thanksgiving night.

Lee Lewis said finally he has the last laugh with this technology known as Wire Rat.

He'd already lost about $10,000 in copper from his irrigation systems. But with the new device, instant text messages saved the day, and Lewis, a couple of thousand dollars.

"Yes we caught them basically in the act," said Lewis. "It was a great feeling."

According to Butler County sheriff's deputies, Michelle Odle, Zachary Hicks, and Nathen Wombles went out to one of Lewis' fields on Thanksgiving night on a mission to take copper wire from a pivot irrigation systems. Then Wire Rat ratted them out.

"Basically my dad and one of the boys that worked for us they corned them," said Lewis.

We agreed not to show pictures of the large device for security reasons, but even if it's touched, along with anywhere else on the system, messages and phone calls go out to multiple people.

In this case the authorities, Lewis' family and staff.

"While they were in the act they didn't even know it but we were in route," said Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

Sheriff Dobbs said copper theft has been a huge problem and in this case, one suspect.

Zachary Hicks was already well known.

"He had kind of been public enemy number one to the farmers it was no surprise when we found out who it was," said Sheriff Dobbs.

According to authorities, this part of the country is where the majority of wire theft occurs.

That's why more local farmers tell Heartland News they are installing Wire Rat or similar devices to hopefully save them thousands.

For Lewis, turning the tables on the crooks was just as fulfilling.

"It felt pretty good it was a strange feeling," laughed Lewis. "Hopefully if people are put where they need to be maybe we won't have anymore trouble."

By next spring a smaller and less expensive version of Wire Rat will be ready for air conditioning systems in homes and churches.

However, if you know a skilled electrician, you can have them adjusted to fit yours now.

You can click here for more information on the Wire Rat.

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