Thefts forcing utility to take its service underground Published: March 21, 2013

SAPULPA -- Losses due to copper thefts on overhead lines has caused AT&T Oklahoma to ask Creek County officials for permission to go underground.

County commissioners approved the request this week, the Sapulpa Daily Herald reports.

Creek County is not the only location where thieves have been stealing the copper, of course, with nationwide numbers estimated at $1 billion in losses for American companies in 2012.

The thefts on phone lines in rural Creek County have been occurring at night, officials said.

They believe that burying the lines will cut down on the number of thefts.

The theft of copper wire with the intent to sell it is a felony in Oklahoma. Those convicted of doing so can face up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

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