Suspect in Wire Thefts Apprehended in Louisa County
Louisa, VA - April 6, 2017: The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office arrested Teddy Eugene Speights Jr (47) and charged him with multiple violations stemming from an intensive investigation into multiple incidents where electrical substations in Louisa County were broken into and vandalized. The incidents began in early 2017 and continued through today's date. Speights was taken into custody shortly after the Sheriff's Office was alerted to his activity at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative's (REC) Elk Creek substation in Louisa County. Speights vehicle was observed leaving the area of the substation by a Louisa Deputy, and a traffic stop was initiated on the vehicle a short distance away. Speights was taken into custody without incident.
An internal alert had been communicated to all Louisa County Deputies shortly before this incident occurred referencing the incident that had taken place on April 5th 2017 in Spotsylvania County at an electrical substation which was damaged.
Further investigation showed that a section of the fence at the Elk Creek substation had been cut and portions of electrical wire had been cut and removed. Items taken from the substation in Louisa County were recovered a short distance away and collected by LCSO Detectives.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office - Criminal Investigations Division had been working together with representatives from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative in order to stop the repeated damage to REC’s electrical substations occurring over the past several months by suspects seeking wire.
Cutting edge technology was put into service a few weeks ago that alerts local law enforcement whenever unauthorized persons enter a substation. This technology alerted Louisa County Dispatch in real time and deputies quickly responded and took Speights into custody. Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office was notified that the physical description of the suspect arrested by the LCSO was consistent with a photograph supplied by REC of the suspect involved in the substation incident in Spotsylvania County the previous day.
Speights was charged with the following offenses in Louisa County in reference to the April 6th incident:
- §18.2-162 - Intentionally destroy or damage facility used to furnish electric service to the public (Class 4 Felony – 1 Count)
- §18.2—96/18.2-104 – Steal wire valued at less than $200 the accused has been convicted two or more times previously (Class 6 Felony – 1 Count)
- §18.2-108.01 – Larceny with intent to sell or distribute (Class U Felony – 1 Count)
- §18.2-137 – Destruction of property with value being >$1000 (Class 6 Felony – 1 Count)
Maxie Rozell, REC manager of safety, security and management stated: "This was a dangerous situation that put the safety of an entire community at risk. Removal of the wire compromised protective and control equipment in the substation. The proactive efforts of the Louisa Sheriff's Office to analyze the theft patterns and anticipate the suspect’s actions helped bring an end to reckless behavior that could have easily ended in tragedy."
Ann Lewis, director of communication and public relations at REC said: "This incident created an inconvenience for many of our members and an extreme expense for their Cooperative. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. The cooperation and professionalism of local law enforcement officials is greatly appreciated."
REC operates and maintains more than 16,000 miles of power lines, which range from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.