UPDATE: Placentia copper thieves will return to court in July

Melissa Jenkins melissa.jenkins@tc.tc
Published on May 13, 2014

Two males from the Freshwater area appeared in Placentia Provincial Court yesterday (May 12) to face charges of theft under $5,000 and mischief over $5,000.

Michael Garfield Forward, 34, from Freshwater and Thomas William O’Reilly, 36, from St. John’s (formerly Freshwater) face the charges after cutting down four red pine utility poles and attempting to steal copper wire on Sunday morning, May 11.

The pair was arrested after Cst. Frederick Paquet of the Placentia RCMP caught them in the act.

One man was standing at the bottom of a pole. The other was on the pole, which had been cut down, but was stuck on some trees at approximately a “30 to 40 degree angle,” said RCMP Cst. Tony Seaward.

The two accused were found with a chainsaw, hacksaw and ax in their possession.

About 10 grams of marijuana was found on the pole, leading to a charge of civil possession for Forward.

One of the poles that had been cut down had a transformer attached to it, leading to the fluid inside leaking into the soil.

A cleanup crew was on site yesterday morning (May 12) to decontaminate the affected area.

Newfoundland Power has been replacing poles in the community, so there was no power to the ones affected. They were going to be taken down at a later date.

Although the estimate of damage was not available, a spokesperson for Newfoundland Power did confirm it costs an average of $1,700 to erect a utility pole in this province.

Forward and O’Reilly will return to Placentia court July 23.



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Two males from Freshwater, Placentia Bay have been arrested for stealing copper wire from Newfoundland Power utility poles in their hometown.

The men, ages 34 and 36, were caught in the act yesterday morning (May 11) after Placentia and Whitbourne RCMP were notified of a utility pole that had been chopped down just after 10:30.

After an officer searched the area, more hewed poles were found. The men were still on the scene.

While one male was spotted at the top of a pole chopping the wires, the second was discovered on the ground with wire in his hands.

The power had been disconnected at the time because Newfoundland Power was replacing poles in the area.

Details on how many poles were affected and how much wire was in the males’ possession was not immediately available.

The pair is in court this morning on charges of mischief over $5,000 and theft under $5,000, after being caught yesterday (May 11) shortly after 10:30 a.m.

The 34-year-old is facing an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance, after being found with a “small amount” of marijuana.

RCMP officers in Placentia were also in court this morning with the accused.

No more details are available at this time.