Westerville police, with support from the Delaware County Drug Task Force, arrested two adults and a juvenile in connection with dozens of thefts of copper wire from businesses around central Ohio.
Glenn E. Simpson, 21, of Columbus, and Melissa D. Goldsmith, 21, of Pataskala, were arrested Nov. 14 as they allegedly attempted to steal copper wire from a commercial site near U.S. Route 23 and Lazelle Road.
A juvenile also was arrested, but he has not yet been charged.
The trio had been under surveillance for the past two days when they were witnessed by police attempting to steal copper wire from the commercial site, Westerville Police Lt. Paul Scowden said.
Over the last month, the Westerville Division of Police have been investigating a rash of copper thefts. In some cases, thieves have stolen electrical copper wiring from businesses.
In other cases, copper piping has been ripped out of vacant homes.
The trio that was arrested has been tied to the thefts of wire from businesses, Scowden said.
Police still are investigating thefts in Westerville and reviewing cases from neighboring jurisdictions, including Columbus and other northern suburbs, to see if others can be connected to Simpson and Goldsmith, Scowden said.
Evidence will be sent to labs, and Scowden said he expects a case against Simpson and Goldsmith is will go before a grand jury within the next month or two.
They already are believed to be connected with dozens of incidents, Scowden said, cashing in thousands of dollars of copper wire and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
"They would cash in thousands of dollars worth of copper and crushed-in metals. They would cause in the way of damage tens of thousands of dollars," Scowden said. "Some of the businesses had to shut down for a day or two. They caused a lot of problems there."
The thieves struck businesses at night, doing minor electrical work to allow access to the wire, which they then cut, Scowden said.
Electrical scorch marks were found on some of their tools, and they were lucky not to have been electrocuted as they worked, Scowden said.
"You would have to have a little bit of an electrical knowledge, and luck is on your side that you're not going to get fried because this is not normal, everyday stuff," he said, adding that the team worked at night when visibility was low.
"They got lucky that they're not dead," he said. "On some of the tools that we took, they could see where there probably was some arcing going on when they were cutting it."