Copper theft sentence decried

August 2, 2006 10:08 am 2 comments

A 35-year-old man was sentenced to a year in prison plus five years probation on Monday for stealing over $200,000 in copper wiring from his employer, a sentence that city prosecutors say is too lenient as metal thefts in Hawaii and across the nation are skyrocketing. Shane Boyle had worked for Graybar Electrical Co., where he redirected over 50 tons of new copper wiring to recyclers for about $90,000. Prosecutors were pushing for the maximum 10-year prison term, as Boyle’s case came to trial in the midst of record metal prices, and countless metal thefts. Boyle’s former boss, Dave Pysher, lost his job due to the thefts, and he told KITV that Boyle’s sentence “sends a terrible message.” He said now thieves know “that the courts will not take the theft of copper seriously.” Nearly two dozen cases have been reported in Hawaii recent months, including some high profile and brazen thefts.

In April, thieves stole a mile of wiring from about 70 streetlights on the H-2 freeway, the second time the wiring had been targeted. The wiring had already been replaced once before at a cost of about $50,000, but now that stretch of the freeway will remain dark until the state can figure out how to secure it yet keep it accessible for maintenance and emergencies.

In May, a man was caught ripping copper roofing off a city building on Kapahulu Avenue.

Thieves also haven’t been shy in ripping rain gutters off school buildings, churches, and government buildings — including Ali’iolani Hale, home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court. Air conditioners, fire hydrants, and even graveyard vases have not been spared. Often the thefts occur in broad daylight, with passers-by not realizing a crime is being committed.

Global demand for copper and other metals is at an all-time high, attributed largely to explosive growth in China, and metal thefts have been rising across the U.S., and in other countries.


  • Det. Geoff Ashworth

    I am a Detective in Springfield, OH and take as receive as many as 2-5 reports daily on copper and aluminum thefts. We recently discovered an old law in our city ordinances which requires all scrapyards to take an ID and record this information as well as the vehicle description, plate number off the vehicle, and a description of the property that is being sold to the yards. This information is required to be sent to the police department every business day. It is a condition of their licensing. We have been doing this now for about a month and have seen great results from it so far. I firmly believe that total cooperation between the scrapyards and the police department is the key. I have had scrapyards call me because they were suspicious of a sale and then discover an unreported crime that resulted in felony arrests. Some of the proactive approaches I have taken is to advise business owners as well as private citizens to install loud audible alarms on their properties. Marking their copper pipes with certain colors of paint for identification purposes. But, through it all, it is still a huge problem. I have had some suspects tell me in interviews they believed it to be a “victimless” act because most of the places that are hit are vacant properties. When you consider the “ripple-effect” it has on the community, it is a large scale problem. Stealing $50.00 worth of copper may require a landlord to put out triple that amount to replace it when you factor in costs, labor, and down time.
    I hope someone comes up with an idea to track and apprehend the thieves.

    Det. Geoff Ashworth
    Springfield, OH
    Springfield Police Department
    Crimes Against Property Unit

  • Hello,
    I am writing a criminal law final paper. I am surfing the web for ideas when I came across your article that was attached in a Hawaiian newspaper article.
    It caught my eye because Northern Vermont had the same problem about copper thieves.
    Vermont did catch a person, and I have not heard about more incidents, possibly because his picture was put all over the news…little shy I guess.
    Thanks again for the blogg.

Leave a Reply

Other News

  • Technology Tourism HVCB Seeks Digital Marketing Coordinator

    HVCB Seeks Digital Marketing Coordinator

    The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), tasked with creating “sustainable, diversified, travel destination demand” for the Hawaiian Islands, is seeking a Digital Marketing Coordinator. “This person’s main job function will be to generate great Hawaii content for our various communication channels –, our blog, enewsletters and social,” explains Kara Imai, the HVCB’s Senior Director of Digital Marketing. “They should have excellent writing skills and also be able to recognize and manage other good freelance content creators.” While it’s […]

    Read more →
  • Education Featured Windward District’s Science Fair Marks 28th Year

    Windward District’s Science Fair Marks 28th Year

    More than 200 students from 31 Windward Oahu schools will present over 160 projects at the annual Windward District’s Science and Engineering Fair.

    Setup begins today at Windward Community College, with judging tomorrow morning and displays open to the public in the afternoon. Winners will be announced on Saturday.

    This year marks the event’s 28th year, and the three-day program is organized by vice principals from schools spanning from Waimanalo to Sunset Beach. In addition to the competition, it offers sixth- through tenth-graders several breakout sessions and presentations by college professors as a way to inspire Hawaii’s future scientists.

    Read more →
  • Art Education Featured Updates Sheet metal roses return for Valentine’s Day

    Sheet metal roses return for Valentine’s Day

    The annual “Forever Rose” sale by the Sheet Metal and Plastics Program at HCC started as a bet over 15 years ago.

    “An apprenticeship student challenged me to make a rose out of sheet metal,” recalls Danny Aiu, Associate Professor of the program. “That night with a strip of sheet metal I molded a rose with my hands. Today, our students apply their skills by operating a plasma cutter, chemicals and other tools used in the trade to create each rose one by one.”

    Read more →
  • Environment Featured Science Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

    Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

    The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature.

    Using chemical information locked in organic skeletal layers, the team used these ancient deep corals as detailed recorders of changes at the base of the open Pacific food web over the last 1,000 years. This represents the first detailed biogeochemical records for the planet’s largest contiguous ecosystem. This type of sample is only available using deep-diving submersibles, such as those operated by HURL.

    Read more →
  • Environment Featured Publicity Science Television ‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

    ‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

    A new television show highlighting ocean and coastal scientists and cultural experts from Hawaii and the Pacific will debut on January 5, 2014. “Voice of the Sea” will be broadcast on on KVFE (Channel 5 and 1005) on Sundays at 6:00 p.m.

    The show is hosted by Dr. Kanesa Duncan Seraphin, world paddleboard champion, shark researcher, and science education expert.

    Dr. Seraphin, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Marine Science Education and associate professor at the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, has traveled across the Pacific to bring stories of relevance to Hawaii. Each half-hour episode profiles local science and cultural celebrities and presents thought-provoking information in an exciting, original, reality-based way.

    Read more →
  • Art People Publicity HIFF names new Executive Director

    HIFF names new Executive Director

    As part of the Hawaii International Film Festival’s (HIFF) business continuity strategy, the HIFF Board of Directors announces that, effective January 1, 2014, current HIFF Executive Director, Chuck Boller, will transition to a new Director Emeritus role and Deputy Director, Robert Lambeth, will transition to Executive Director. Designed to support HIFF’s long-term film exhibition and education strategies, Mr. Boller will now focus primarily on fundraising and establishing a new HIFF Foundation. HIFF Board President and Chairman, Owen Ogawa, said: “Chuck […]

    Read more →
  • Featured History Television Tourism Battleship Missouri Screens Special ‘Five-0′ Episode

    Battleship Missouri Screens Special ‘Five-0′ Episode

    Starting this Saturday, December 7 through December 13, visitors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial will enjoy a special sneak preview of the ‘Hawaii Five-0′ episode that will later air nationwide on Friday, December 13, 9PM ET/PT, on the CBS Television Network.

    Titled ‘Ho‘onani Makuakane’ (‘Honor Thy Father’), the episode focuses on the attempted murder of a Pearl Harbor veteran that leads ‘Five-0′ to use decades old evidence to investigate a deadly crime committed within the internment camps holding Americans of Japanese ancestry on Oahu during World War II. A remembrance ceremony using actual World War II veterans was filmed at the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

    The ‘Hawaii Five-0′ episode in its entirety will be projected onto a large video screen in the Missouri’s educational classroom, which is air-conditioned and located one deck below the main deck next to the Mess Hall.

    Read more →
  • Government Media Television State blasts ‘American Jungle’ shoot in Hawaii

    State blasts ‘American Jungle’ shoot in Hawaii

    In response to The History Channel’s new series “American Jungle,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), as well as representatives of hunting, animal protection and film agencies in Hawaii, find the series’ depiction of hunting activities on the Island of Hawaii to be inaccurate, offensive, and in some cases, potentially illegal.

    The DLNR Division of Conservation Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) is currently conducting an investigation into whether several of DLNR’s rules and regulations may have been broken during the filming of the program. Activities such as night hunting both on public and private land, are illegal under Hawaii Revised Statues §183D-27 and Hawaii Administrative Rules §13-123-6. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), which oversees DLNR’s hunting program, denied a permit request last spring for the production to film on state forest lands.

    Read more →