JACKSON, MISS. --- For several months, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has experienced theft of copper electrical wire from high-mast and other interstate lighting systems on I-20, I-220 and I-55. Enforcement officials suspect someone has been connecting a vehicle or pulley to the wire at one pole and pulling the wire through from several other nearby poles. These thefts resulted in the interstate lights not working and an unnecessary expense to the tax-payers, and is a dangerous practice for the thieves.
On Friday, July 12, 2019, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a district MDOT employee observed a small red pickup truck on I-20 near I-220 with copper wire attached to the truck and wire stretching across the interstate from a light pole. The vehicle fled the scene with the wire trailing behind in an effort to get away. The MDOT employee was able to keep the fleeing vehicle in site while notifying 911 and his supervisor. MDOT Law Enforcement officers were contacted and responded to the scene. The fleeing vehicle exited I-20 north on University Boulevard, pulling into a parking lot near the intersection of Raymond Road and University Boulevard. The MDOT employee observed the driver and passenger exit the vehicle with the driver walking away to the convenience store. The passenger was physically disabled and remained with the vehicle.
An MDOT Enforcement Officer arrived at the convenience store and exited his vehicle to talk with the driver. As the officer approached, the suspect fled east across University Boulevard into a wooded area parallel to Lynch Creek.
Further investigation revealed the identity of the suspect as Jerry L. Evans, 45, with no address, having a warrant from Hinds County for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. MDOT Enforcement Officers located and arrested Evans in an abandoned motel on Highway 80 in Jackson. He was transported to the Hinds County Raymond Detention center for the Hinds County warrant, Simple Assault on a Police Officer, Felony Theft and Resisting Arrest. Evans was transported to the county jail. The investigation of the copper thefts is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated.
“This type of criminal activity endangers the safety of the public,” said Commissioner Dick Hall, chair, Mississippi Transportation Commission. “The action of the MDOT district employee and enforcement officer is commendable.”
If you see anyone in a non-Government vehicle tampering with electrical components in medians or on the side of the road, contact local law enforcement.