One arrest made, more possible in DOTD copper theft

Copper theft at DOTD
Bradley B. Edwards (Source: Louisiana State Police)
Bradley B. Edwards (Source: Louisiana State Police)

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Thieves targeted a state agency Monday morning, stealing copper from the Department of Transportation Development Building on Highway 90

The Department of Transportation and Development made the call to Louisiana State Police around 6:00 Monday morning.

"We immediately sent a trooper to secure the facility, and our detectives responded as well," said Sgt. James Anderson with State Police.

An employee reporting to work noticed missing copper at several locations in the DOTD yard.

"They had copper wire stolen, approximately 850 feet from DOTD," said Anderson.

That's valued at $4,000-$5,000 according to Anderson. Louisiana State Police immediately began trying to locate suspects.

"An investigation ensued," said Anderson. "We followed some leads, and were able to apprehend one suspect nearby."

That suspect was 42-year-old Bradley Edwards of Lake Charles. He's been charged with theft over $1,000, burglary, simple criminal damage to property and flight from an officer.

While LSP did apprehend an individual after Monday morning's break-in, they continued to search in a nearby wooded area.

State Police, with assistance from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, searched the area for hours but never located the second suspect. Anderson says the theft is unfortunate, but it's nothing his agency didn't expect.

"It wasn't a surprise, unfortunately," said Anderson. "There have been quite a few copper thefts in the area. It's a problem that plagues not only our area, but it's a nationwide problem."

Anderson says they hope new legislation will help law enforcement agencies with copper theft cases.

"The legislature recently passed a new law, dealing with copper theft," said Anderson. "It is a problem, and it is something that's being addressed."

Troopers managed to recover a large portion of the copper and return it to DOTD. Anderson said the recovered portion is valued at around $2,000.

Troopers tell us that if convicted, Edwards could face up to 23 years in prison. His bond was set at $150,000.

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