CenturyLink confirms over 30 copper thefts have resulted in delays in internet repairs

CenturyLink confirmed 30 copper thefts in Eugene within the last two weeks

EUGENE, Ore. — Copper thefts in Eugene have caused long internet outages for CenturyLink customers. The internet provider confirmed that more than 30 cases of copper theft have taken place in the city within the last two weeks.

Keith Miller lives in the Bethel community in West Eugene where he had to deal with almost two weeks without internet while being on medical leave at home. At the start of the outage Miller had to wait a few days before it was eventually restored. However, only a day later his internet was off again for even longer. Miller said after spotting a work crew, they told him that people had stolen the copper wiring needed to give him internet.

“That’s obviously more than one group of people going around stealing copper and he said they are getting very bold,” Miller said. “It used to be they’d do it in the middle of the night… now they’re doing it in the middle of the day.”

Busted wires

With repeated Copper thefts, CenturyLink workers have told neighbors it’s a cycle of repairing the wire and then having it stolen. 

The state of Oregon is no stranger to metal thieves, especially with copper metals. Because of this in 2008, lawmakers created laws in an attempt to thwart potential thieves by making the selling process more restrictive and longer. Miller said he knows that these restrictions are out there and have been put in place by the local scrap metal recyclers.

“There’s a law that if you sell some sort of precious metal in a certain quantity…they wanted your I.D. and address,” Miller said. “They actually send you a check so you couldn’t just go in and get it and get cash.”

Jay Burcham is the owner of Burcham’s Metal Inc. in Albany that specializes in recycling metal. In his many years of dealing with buying and selling scrap metal, Burcham said since the 2008 laws were put in place, the amount of stolen metal has been reduced greatly over the years.

“It’s a substantial change, a substantial difference. It still goes on but nothing like it was,” Burcham said. “You would take a picture of what they sell you and then also they have the documentation of what they sold you and the weight of the material.”

Established business

Burcham’s Metals Inc. has dealt with all manners of customers trying to sell stolen metal including copper.

The state laws are helping slow metal thefts, but Burcham said it does still happen in the metal recycling industry. Back in Eugene, Miller said he hopes that additional action can be taken to reduce thefts across the state.

“Something’s got to be done to where they know they’re not going to just be turned back out at night and go steal some more,” Miller said. “What that answer is I have no idea.”

Noah Chavez joined the KEZI 9 News team in January 2023 as a news reporter. If you have any story ideas for Noah, you can email him at noahchavez@kezi.com.

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