LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) - Travis County Sheriffs are searching for a second suspected wanted in a copper theft case that caused an estimated $100,000 in damage at a Lake Travis Marina. The case is a sign of a troubling trend that's costing more and more homeowners and businesses.
Managers at the Emerald Point Marina spent Friday trying to figure out how fix all the damage left behind by a copper thief. They aren't alone.
"It's been going on for a long long time," said Mark Caudill of Lake Travis Services Inc. Caudill's company gets a lot of calls for dock repairs, many of whom are repeat customers who continue to be targeted.
"We will do an install for a tram on a Monday...then 300 feet would disappear Monday night," Caudill said. "We put the same wire in the same location twice in one week."
Caudill says these marine burglars often operate in the cover of night onboard small powerboats, taking whatever they can get their hands on.
"A battery on one of our service boats was stolen and that happens frequently," Caudill said. "We've had sabotage, we've had people that are just bored. If they can't steal it and make a profit on it, they'll tear it up."
Copper theft has become more common as the lake drops. Thieves have easier access to cut and haul off the material which can bring them thousands of dollars in payoff.
"It's visible, it comes to the surface and it's tempting," Caudill said. "The bottom line is things are disappearing, and it's not aliens."
Deputies arrested 44-year-old Michael Peck of Austin and charged him with a 2nd degree felony criminal mischef. Peck told deputies of an accomplice but that suspect has still not been found.
Copper prices have risen in recent years but are currently down from the all-time high. Back in January 2009, the prices of copper fell to about a $1.30 per pound. By April 2010, prices surged up to more than $4.50 a pound.
Right now a pound of copper goes for $3.21.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.