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COPPER STOPPER

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Deputies arrest duo accused of excavating conduit filled with valuable metal

By Beth Braden

RARITY MOUNTAIN—Two men are accused of trying to steal copper wiring after a construction company employee reported a forklift valued at $125,000 missing from a job site and alerted authorities. The employee followed the tracks left by the stolen forklift and located the machine approximately 8 miles away, at the Rarity Mountain golf course site, according to reports from the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.

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When the employee found the forklift, he also found Ira Stevie Ridenour, 236 Laurel Branch Road, Pioneer, and Jimmy Shannon Lay, 170 W. Cotula Lane, LaFollette, according to incident reports. Lay was allegedly driving the forklift to pull conduit out of the ground, the report indicated. Ridenour was using a shovel to assist him, it stated.

The conduit contained copper wire, which can be resold to scrap yards for cash.

An altercation ensued after the construction employee approached, according to reports. Lay was reportedly in possession of a knife, and a brief fistfight ensued between Lay and the construction worker. The two men allegedly fled the scene, but were located a short time later by deputies from the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.

Lay was charged with theft of property greater than $60,000, vandalism greater than $60,000, aggravated assault and aggravated trespassing. Ridenour was also charged with theft of property $60,000, vandalism and aggravated criminal trespassing.