Clintonville couple accused of stealing $55,000 of copper wire
Christopher R. Leach, 25, and Selena M. Prahl, 22, are each charged with five counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft. Prahl also faces a felony charge of possession of an electric weapon.
On May 6, Clintonville Police Officer Dennis Schroeder spoke with the owners of Specialized Products, an electrical parts assembly plant. They reported the ongoing theft of large quantities of a specialized, heat-resistant copper wire.
The wire was twisted into half-inch strands that were rolled onto 24-inch-diameter spools. A typical spool had about 900 feet of wiring.
The company first noticed that wiring was missing in October. They also started finding short pieces in the scrap bins.
Management started documenting who was using the wiring. They employed 144 people and this was the first time they had significant theft problems.
They started storing the spools in the warehouse, but the thefts continued.
On April 30, Specialized Products took shipment of 16 spools of wire. By May 1, two spools, valued at $1,700 each, were missing from that shipment. The following day, two more spools were gone. And a fifth spool was taken on May 5.
Between October 2014 and May 2015, the company estimates that $55,000 of copper wire was stolen.
The owners suspected Prahl because she was contracted from another company to clean the offices and bathrooms. However, they noted that the spools weigh 60-70 pounds, and they believed Prahl was too small to lift them.
According to the criminal complaint, a review of the security system’s event log indicated Prahl had been making multiple entries into the building. On April 13, she entered the building four times in one day, including three times in 10 minutes.
They purchased a video camera and on the night of May 8, an employee who was parked at a nearby business shot video that investigators say shows Prahl rolling a spool out of the building and a man helping her load it into a gray Jeep.
Clintonville police subsequently executed a search warrant at Prahl and Leach’s residence. They reported finding two spools of the wiring, 58 wooden spool ends and numerous garbage bags filled with cut pieces of copper wiring.