Two men charged in Largo copper wiring thefts

LARGO — Police have arrested two men they say caused about $20,000 in damage as they stripped copper wiring from electric poles.

James Michael Burns, 29, and Travis Anthony Farinella, 25, were each charged Wednesday with grand theft, criminal mischief and violation of probation.

According to Largo police, a witness called authorities early Wednesday morning to report that two men were cutting wires from Progress Energy poles in the 1800 block of Juanita Court, east of Belcher Road.

Police stopped the two men as they tried to leave the area and found backpacks full of copper grounding wire in their vehicle, according to arrest reports.

Progress Energy officials estimated it would cost about $20,000 to make repairs to the poles and replace the wiring, police said.

Copper is a popular target for thieves who resell it at scrap yards, authorities said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Burns, of 1675 Cleveland St. in Clearwater, and Farinella, of 107 E Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs, were each being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail on probation violations.

Two men charged in Largo copper wiring thefts 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 6:32pm]

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