Three suspects face charges after reports of copper wire theft from Century Link, according to a news release.

In December of 2022, the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office began to take reports of vandalism and theft of copper wire from Century Link, the release says.

Century Link reported their poles were cut down and wires were hanging from the intersection of 80th Ave and DMC Highway 99. It was determined the wire was being cut and stolen from the poles for the purpose of stripping the copper wire, according to the release.

Century Link reported several more thefts of wire in January. At that time the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office began to conduct surveillance operations near where these thefts were taking place.

Through these surveillance operations, detectives saw several people stealing copper wire from this area. The suspects were stopped in a vehicle and identified. Arrest warrants were issued for the charges of second-degree criminal mischief and second-degree theft for:

  • Christopher Bernard Oberlander, 33, of Burlington
  • Tony William Phillips, 53, of Burlington
  • Andrew Joseph Stout, 36, of West Burlington
(Clockwise from top left) Christopher Oberlander, Troy Phillips and Andrew Stout (photos: Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office)

On Friday, all three were placed under arrest, and they are being held at the Des Moines County Sheriff’s on no-bond warrants. This is an ongoing investigation, and more charges are expected as more suspects are identified, the release says.

The Des Moines County Sheriffs Office would like to make the public aware that there have been numerous thefts of copper wire, catalytic converters, and burglaries to outbuildings such as sheds, barns, and work sites in the past several months, according to the release.

It is not uncommon for suspects to do their own surveillance during the day and nighttime hours to look for items to steal, the release says. The Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone who sees suspicious activity or vehicles to call and report the incident as soon as possible.