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THIEVES SCALE UTILITY POLE TO CUT WIRES, STEAL COPPER

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Friday, June 4, 2010— A Des Plaines woman is free on bond, while her boyfriend remains in the Cook County Jail after they were arrested for scaling a utility pole and cutting utility lines in an effort to steal the copper inside those wires, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Friday.

Louis BausCynthia Hamm

Louis Baus, 36, and Cynthia Hamm, 32, of the 2900 block of North Curtis Street in Des Plaines, are each charged with felony theft. They appeared in Skokie bond court on Thursday, where bond was set at $50,000 for Baus and $10,000 for Hamm.

The investigation began after sheriff’s police received a tip about criminal activity going on around the Crestwood Condominiums and Apartments in the 10100 block of Holly Lane in the unincorporated Des Plaines area. Detectives learned Baus and Hamm had been in the area looking for discarded scrap metal when they saw copper wires hanging from a utility pole. On Sunday, Baus climbed dozens of feet up the pole and began cutting the wiring, causing it to snap free. Baus then worked with Hamm to cut the wire, which was property of Clear Channel Communications, into strips.

The couple made two trips in their 2003 Chevrolet Impala to haul it away. Sunday’s trip netted them a strip of copper that was 112.5 feet. They returned on Monday to take the remaining strip, which was 111.4 feet long. Copper is valued at about $7.65 per square foot, putting the value of their theft at more than $1,700. A neighbor noticed their theft and notified sheriff’s police, who put out an alert for all area agencies to be on the lookout for their car.

Officers with the Cook County Forest Preserve Police Department saw a car matching the description later Monday at the Beck Lake Forest Preserve, about two blocks north of the crime scene, and alerted sheriff’s police. After the couple was arrested, police recovered cable cutters, screwdrivers and a hacksaw from their car. Also inside was all of the stolen copper wiring.

Baus remains in jail and though Hamm is free on bond, she must provide weekly drug tests to court officials and must stay at least ½ mile away from the Crestwood complex.

The next court date for the couple is set for Wednesday in Skokie.

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