WINTHROP — Police are investigating the theft of thousands of dollars of wire from FairPoint Communications.

Police Chief Joseph Young said the wire was taken from FairPoint’s secured yard off Main Street sometime during the weekend of Aug. 4-5.

Marc Lussier, senior manager for FairPoint’s security, said the replacement cost of the stolen wire is about $11,000.

Young is hoping someone noticed suspicious activity near the yard and will call police. “If anybody saw anything, we’d be interested in that,” he said.

Lussier said FairPoint offers rewards for information leading to copper thieves throughout northern New England.

“The company will offer up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those individuals responsible for these thefts, depending on the severity of the crime,” Lussier said. “Sometimes if you offer a reward there are people who are willing to step forward because they’re interested in making a few bucks.”

Lussier said metal thieves have broken into the Winthrop property before. He said other properties in central Maine have recently and repeatedly been victimized, as have FairPoint locations throughout New England.

There were even cases in Vermont of thieves climbing utility poles and snipping wire from the poles, he said.

“It’s a financial loss, but at that point it becomes a safety and a public safety concern,” Lussier said. “People are unable to call for police, fire or an ambulance.”

The cable stolen from the Winthrop yard is roughly 1 inch in diameter and is comprised of hundreds of thin, multi-colored phone wires.

“It’s not something an electrician or homeowner would use,” Lussier said. “It’s very unique cable.”

Metal thefts in Maine continue to be a significant problem despite laws that require recycling centers to record customers’ identification, Young said. By recording identification, yards are supposed to be able to assist an investigation if the recycled metal proves to be stolen.

“It really is troubling and frustrating to know that people will bring in wire and nobody questions that,” Young said. “If somebody comes in with pipe that obviously has been cut out of a house, somebody should be bringing that to our attention.”

Sometimes the thieves will melt the stolen material to make it less identifiable, Lussier said. He believes most metal recyclers try to keep stolen material from entering their yards, but all it takes is a couple businesses to be less-than-diligent with their prevention efforts.

“If you’re a bad guy, you just know where to go,” Lussier aid.

Young asked that anyone with information about the FairPoint theft to call Detective Peter Struck at 377-7226 or Lussier at 603-656-8222.

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