DEKALB COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) Indiana State Police following up on a lead found two men late Monday evening they believe were stealing copper wire from light poles on I-69.
Detective Clint Hetrick and First Sergeant Mark Carunchia had been investigating a rash of copper wire thefts in the Fort Wayne area. The lead they got prompted them to be in the area of I-69 and State Road 8 at around 10:40 p.m. They noticed two men walking from the interchange to a pickup truck parked in the lot of a Home Depot. The two got in the truck and drove onto the exit ramp from State Road 8 to southbound I-69. Hetrick and Carunchia then witnessed the two men stop the truck and load something into it from the shoulder.
Two other troopers pulled up behind the truck a few miles later after it had stopped on its own on the shoulder of the exit ramp at County Road 11A. The troopers confronted the two men and noticed 10 rolls of insulated copper wire in the bed of the truck. The driver had a pair of wire cutters in his pants pocket.
First Sergeant Carunchia determined that the wire had been cut and removed from four light poles at the interchange. The value of the wire is estimated to be between $2,000 and $3,000.
The driver, Ryan S. Self, 29 of Chesterton and the passenger, Jerone Dunams, 36, of Gary were both taken into custody without incident and are facing a preliminary charge of felony theft.
NewsChannel 15 reported earlier in March on the thefts of copper wire from lights around I-69 and U.S. 30. State authorities asked drivers to call 911 immediately if they notice anyone, even a professional-looking crew, near interstate or highway lights.
State police said they don’t know if these two arrests are related to the other incidents, but they are investigating that possibility.