Police are investigating the theft of nearly 950 feet of copper wire from a railroad signal switch near Burlington.
The 10-gauge wire, valued at $15,000, was reported stolen Sunday morning from a switch on the Canadian Northern line about a mile east of Burlington Road and Railroad Street, in unincorporated Kane County, police said Thursday.
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Sheriff Pat Perez, whose office is investigating, said it appeared to be one of the largest copper thefts the county has seen recently.
"It comes and goes in spurts," he said, noting that copper thieves often target homes under construction. "That kind of stuff has been kind of on the drop since there hasn't been a lot of building going on."
Deputies believe the thieves rode an all-terrain vehicle to access the site, then climbed a utility pole and cut the live wire. Railroad workers told police another 600 feet of wire was left unusable as a result.
Perez said investigators typically visit area scrap metal businesses to look for large sales, but whether that leads to an arrest often depends on companies maintaining "proper credentials" on their customers.
"It's a matter of hitting every place in the area," he said.
A spokesman of Canadian National said he was unaware of the theft and had no further details.
BEGIN ATTRIBUTIONDaily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this storyEND ATTRIBUTION