A Bettendorf man is behind bars after Bettendorf Police allege he stole thousands of dollars’ worth of copper wire.

Mark Handlon, 68, whose address is listed as both Bettendorf and Moline in different court documents, faces a felony charge of first-degree theft, court records show. Someone convicted of first-degree theft faces a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a fine.

Mark Handlon (photo from Scott County Jail inmate listing.)

Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Dec. 9, 2022, police allege Handlon removed several 20-foot pieces of transmission line, six-inch diameter copper pipe with two-inch diameter pipe inside, from an area in the 3800 block of Old Belmont Road, Bettendorf.

Handlon was hired to scrap out several items from a building but was not allowed to go into the basement of the building where the copper pipes were being kept, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, “This incident was captured on video from the property.” The owner confirmed Handlon was the person in the video leaving the property with the copper pipes.

Handlon returned to the property on five more occasions, allegedly taking a total of 15 pipes, valued at $2,455 each. The total value of copper pipe taken from the property was $36,825, police allege in the affidavit.

Handlon, who was arrested on a warrant, is being held in Scott County Jail on a $10,000 bond, is set for a hearing Friday in Scott County Court.

Copper thefts

According to an article in Iowa Electric Cooperative Living, a monthly magazine for member-consumers of Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives, thefts of copper, aluminum and bronze are on the rise across the country at abandoned commercial buildings, construction sites, empty homes and power lines along rural roads and electric co-op power substations near neighborhoods, the article says.

“Copper theft threatens electric reliability, safety and lives,” the article says. Many law enforcement officials believe that methamphetamine users are responsible for much of the problem. Electric utility equipment can be ruined without the protection copper wires provide, according to the article.  

Another QCA copper theft

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.