Man arrested in connection to recent copper thefts
Pine Bluff police arrested a man suspected of multiple copper wire thefts in the city in recent months.
In a news release Thursday from Lt. DeShawn Bennett, police were “doing deliberate patrols” in the area of Sixth Avenue and Ash Street on Tuesday when Field Training Officer Donte Nicholson advised he saw a white male matching the description of John Cody Mayberry. An anonymous caller reportedly told police on Jan. 1 a man identified as Mayberry was cutting large amounts of AT&T wire in the area of West Eighth Avenue. Detectives, Bennett wrote, sought Mayberry for questioning in a previous incident on 11th Avenue and Railroad.
Nicholson then surveyed the location of 1616 W. Sixth Ave. for Mayberry, according to Bennett, while Capt. Jason Howard and officers John Woods and Tyler Smith, along with police dog Poker, were in the area waiting for a vehicle to pull off. Officer Karvarious Jones was also said to be on patrol.
“Once FTO Nicholson advised the vehicle pulled off, Captain Howard developed probable cause to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle,” Bennett wrote. “Captain Howard attempted to stop the vehicle at Sixth Avenue and Ash Street, but the vehicle continued for several blocks to Sixth Avenue and Linden Street, then stopped. Captain Howard and Officers Woods, FTO Nicholson, and K-9 Officer Smith (K-9 Poker) conducted a felony traffic stop and all occupants were taken out of the vehicle. Mayberry was inside this vehicle and was taken into custody for the copper thefts and a questioning on a previous case.”
The officers conducted many nights of special patrol in search for the copper wire thieves and in an attempt to take Mayberry into custody, according to Bennett.
Mayberry was booked into the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Detention Center at 12:46 a.m. Wednesday. He was charged with criminal attempted theft, impairing operation of a vital public facility and incapacitating the operator, possession of a controlled substance (codeine) and drug paraphernalia, and theft of property, according to the jail log. He’s also booked on an alias warrant for furnishing prohibited articles.
Pine Bluff has experienced a string of copper thefts in recent years, leading Mayor Shirley Washington to form a volunteer task force to be on the lookout for such crimes. AT&T Little Rock area manager D’Angelo Brown said at a community meeting in October the telecommunications utility has spent at least $250,000 trying to restore copper for its services. The task force is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Det. Kevin D. Collins Center at the Civic Center.
Also in October, two men were arrested in connection to a similar incident in the area of 30th to 32nd avenues and Fir Street.
“In the early part of September 2023, swing-shift and graveyard-shift patrol started conducting deliberate criminal patrols in various areas across the city due to a high rise in copper thefts,” Bennett wrote. “As a result of their collective efforts, they obtained names and locations of several individuals who were either involved or had been found with tools used to cut copper wire from telephone poles and ladders used to climb the telephone poles. In addition to the names and locations, officers noticed a pattern in reference to when the copper thieves were stealing the copper. They noticed, during the hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., there was an uptick of persons either riding bicycles or walking in the immediate areas where copper had been stolen.”
Bennett reported police on Sept. 22 were called to a field behind 1020 Linden St. where three men were suspected of burning copper wire. A man was detained, and an officer found a fire in a wooded area with a spool of copper wire identified by AT&T employees as the stolen product. The wire was valued at $2,500.
Several other spools with no wire were found, and other wire identified by AT&T was valued at $6,000.
“The Pine Bluff Police Department is committed to serving and protecting this city,” Bennett wrote. “Even though copper thefts have risen over the past year, our officers are dedicated to building cases and apprehending those individuals directly responsible. We understand that many areas were affected by the theft of copper, so we ask the public for assistance by reporting unusual behavior in your neighborhood or abroad. Please call the detective office tip line at (870) 730-2106, the detective office at (870) 730-2090, or the dispatched center at (870) 541-5300.
“We would like to thank everyone for the calls and texts, as it directly relates to the identification and apprehension of individuals who have been a nuisance to our great city.