Area task force forms to combat growing wire theft problem

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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PORT NECHES — Metal theft has become a fairly frequent crime across the area, so much so that a task force of law enforcement is working to investigate these crimes.

Port Neches Police Det. Scott Thompson said many agencies in Jefferson and Orange counties are seeing metal cases.

On May 16, officers with PNPD arrested Eddie Lee Dunwoody Jr. of Vidor after a call of suspicious activity. Officers are aware of the communication cable thefts in the area of Industrial Boulevard near Williamsburg Lane in Port Neches and noted a vehicle leaving that area and made a traffic stop.

Eddie Lee Dunwoody Jr.

An officer reportedly observed tools inside the vehicle in plain view. She also noticed these such tools are commonly used in cable theft, police said.

Officers and Capt. Det. Jesse Fournet conducted a field investigation.

They located a piece of freshly cut communication cable approximately 30 feet in length lying on the side of the road, in addition to the tools located in Dunwoody’s vehicle and other evidence linking Dunwoody to the cut cable.

While they believed Dunwoody was the only suspect, they deployed the department drone and checked for additional suspects, police said.

None were located.

Dunwoody was arrested for theft and brought to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.

Thompson said law enforcement is noticing an uptick in cable wire theft.

“To the point that we had a meeting with the D.A.’s office, AT&T, DPS, Texas Rangers and all sorts of local agencies to discover what was going on,” Thompson said.

That’s when they discovered how widespread the crime is.

A task force was set up a year ago. Thompson is on the force and works with Texas Department of Public Safety Regulatory Services Division.

Thompson said the Regulatory Services Division regulates a number of businesses, specifically scrap yards.

Scrap yards are forbidden from accepting wholly or partly burned communication wire. The crime is a misdemeanor.

Dunwoody was released from jail on accusation.

Thompson explained police have three days in which to file formal charges with the D.A.’s office and if that is not done, the alleged suspect is released.

— Written by Mary Meaux