Police are looking for two men who stole copper wire from a construction site in north Wichita.
An alarm attached to equipment owned by AT&T at a site in the 5200 block of North Arkansas began sounding at about 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, indicating someone was tampering with equipment, Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte said.
A resident of the area spotted two men in overalls cutting copper wire at the site and chased them away, Nolte said. Police weren’t notified of the incident until later that morning, however.
AT&T employees discovered 160 feet of copper wiring was taken from the site, Nolte said, but officers searching the area later found 109 feet of the wiring in the 800 block of West 51st Street, just a couple of blocks from where the wiring was stolen.
The theft disrupted phone and utility service in the surrounding area for a short time, Nolte said.
The new wire was being installed, he said, so when the thieves cut and removed it “they might have damaged some of the existing lines.”
“They took advantage of the fact that construction was going on, and they had easy access to the line,” he said.
Thieves are stealing copper these days “from just about any place they can find it,” Nolte said.
Investigators aren’t sure why AT&T didn’t call 911 when the equipment alarm sounded early Thursday morning.
“It would have been nice to get some officers in the area once the alarm went off,” Nolte said.
The incident caused thousands of dollars in damage, he said.