Cameras catch man stealing copper at MLGW facility

Chase Lung (Courtesy
Chase Lung (Courtesy

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A man was caught on camera breaking into an MLGW substation to swipe the copper from inside, utility officials said Thursday.

Chase Lung is accused of breaking into the Riverport Road utility substation and stealing copper wire.

According to an affidavit of complaint with the Memphis Police Department, he told arresting officers, "I did it because I have financial problems, and I needed to pay the bills."

Thursday, MLGW officials said they were not surprised by the economic excuse.  So far this year, the utility has worked 73 theft cases, more than half within the last month.

The utility is now fighting back, installing surveillance cameras at all 62 substations, which will be monitored around the clock.

The cameras at the Riverport Road facility went online just 12 hours before the break-in.  Police were able to catch Lung before he left MLGW property.

"We caught him, and we hopefully stopped copper thefts we've had that's costing all our customers money," MLGW spokesperson Chris Stanley said.

Now, MLGW is investigating whether Lung was involved in any other substation break-ins, wagering potential jail time against financial ruin - or worse.