Railroad Scrap Metal Theft Lands Two Men in Jail

Railroad Scrap Metal Theft Lands Two Men in Jail
By: Arnold Wyrick
Union County, Illinois - It's just lying along railroad tracks, and no one will miss it if it's gone right? Wrong, that steel belongs to someone, and in this case it belonged to Union Pacific Railroad. Now two Southeast Missouri men face criminal charges in Southern Illinois for stealing scrap metal from the railroad.
The two men are 38-year-old Christopher Copeland, and 37-year-old Donald Graham. Deputies in Union County caught up with the men after their truck blew out a tire due to all the weight piled up in the bed of it.
"An investigator with the railroad had some information about the possibility that Copeland had been stealing from the railroad in both Missouri and Illinois," says Union County State's Attorney Allen James.
When police discovered the vehicle they also found something else illegal inside it.
"They found methamphetamine in the glove box. And that vehicle belonged to Mr.. Copeland. So he's been charged with possession of methamphetamine, and possession of stolen property," James said.
And police say the two may have been involved in an incident in Missouri that almost resulted in a catastrophe.
"It's believed they may have been the persons who cut a live electric wire and removed it for the copper inside. That wire was a communications link between two trains that could've caused a head on collision," State's Attorney James said.
The two men have posted bond and now await their court hearing in a Union County.
"If they're found guilty they could be sentenced from 2 to 5 years in jail for the theft. And Mr.. Copeland could be sentenced to an additional 1 to 4 years for the drug possession," James said.