Light poles copper theft investigation leads to familiar house

More than 500 light poles rendered useless because someone has been stealing the high grade copper wiring inside.
Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 11:00 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s one of Louisville’s more bizarre crime sprees that has left our freeways in the dark.

More than 500 light poles rendered useless because someone has been stealing the high grade copper wiring inside. 66,000 feet and counting of copper wiring.

These thefts have created a safety hazard, and the Transportation Cabinet is offering a $2,500 reward for help.

WAVE News has learned that the investigation of the thefts has led authorities straight to a house in the Portland neighborhood that was the focus of a Troubleshooter investigation.

Things didn’t go well when people were approached at 642 North 29th Street about complaints we were getting from neighbors. They alleged people at the property were running a meth, heroin and prostitution ring when they weren’t in the business of buying and selling stolen property.

Undercover surveillance appeared to confirm the complaints, with hand to hand transactions going on all hours of the day amid a sea of motorcycles, mopeds and dune buggies spilling out from the yard into the street, constantly hauling items to and from the residence.

Codes inspectors had made 28 visits to the property owned by John Wakeland, assessing hundreds of dollars in fines, noting “this address has a history of some shady activity.”

WAVE News received a call from a special agent with the Office of the Inspector General, informing their investigation into the freeway copper wiring theft case led them to the same place on North 29th Street where John Wakeland was charged with receiving stolen property.

Officers were able to follow a recently stolen spool of the copper wiring from a light pole straight to Wakeland’s house.

There, they found several individuals, including Wakeland, standing around a four-wheeled go-cart style buggy with a trailer behind it. They also found the copper wiring marked “Property: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet” in a lock box removed from the spool.

Wakeland told them he had just purchased a spool of copper from a homeless camp nearby.

He is scheduled for arraignment on receiving stolen property on November 10. No arrest has been made of the actual wire thieves.

The Inspector General’s investigation is still open. The reward for information remains in place.