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Indianapolis man electrocuted; copper theft suspected

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Firefighters had to remove the body from the roof

Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - An Indianapolis man was killed Thursday morning after being electrocuted. Metro Police say he was trying to steal copper wiring from a rooftop transformer.

According to police, Jeffrey Reynolds, 31, was electrocuted while he was stealing copper wire from the roof of Circle City Industrial Complex, an industrial building on Massachusetts Avenue near downtown.

The fire department and IPL had to remove the body and turn off power to make it safe. Crews closed Massachusetts Avenue between Columbia Ave and Newman Street for several hours Thursday morning.

Reynolds' family is mourning their loss.

"He lost his job and didn't have nothing, found out he had a baby on the way. He was trying to provide like any other...father would have done," said Penny McGowan, the victim's aunt.

Two weeks ago Charlie Patterson found the air conditioning units at his west side work shop broken open, thieves stole the copper coil from inside.

"When I got the call this morning and come down and saw what happened it infuriated me to no end," said Patterson.

Copper is relatively accessible. A 30-lb. box of copper is worth about $100 in scrap metal.

People are taking precautions, putting A/C units under lock and key. Churches, with their ornate decorations, are often prime targets. Workers renovating the Old Centrum Church at 12th and Central Ave. have to be on guard day and night.

"We've had some incidents where some copper has come up missing..even during the day. But that's probably going to happen on any job right now, you got to watch it," said Jeff Pritchett, Pritchett Brothers Construction.

If it wasn't clear that crime doesn't pay, one family has words of warning so that someone else won't become a victim of their own actions.

"He had his whole life and now we don't have him and his new baby don't even know his dad and will never. Stop and think before you do it. There's other resources. Somewhere, somehow find it. Don't lose your life over it," said McGowan.

A University of Indianapolis study from a few years ago found during a three-month period that $1 million in metals was being stolen per month, which translates to about seven thefts every day in the city. The most commonly stolen metal is copper.