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Now our elected officials are stealing copper…

James Richard Smith copper

I'm a big fan of the Chicago Cubs. Knowing that, imagine my surprise to learn yesterday the team's new manager Joe Madden is not only the former mayor of Luther, but also an enterprising copper thief.


A former Luther mayor and town trustee is accused of directing state inmates on work release to steal copper from tornado sirens, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said Thursday.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested James Smith, 66, Wednesday on several complaints of copper theft from a tornado siren, according to jail records.

Smith, who served 12 years in Luther’s city government, directed three Department of Corrections inmates on work release to strip copper and aluminum wire from six tornado sirens during a town cleanup in October, Whetsel said. The sirens were not in use at the time.

Geeze, I hope the sirens were not in use at the time. What idiot would steal copper from a tornado siren at noon on a Saturday? Wouldn't that be awful? We'd have to send the inmates to Wava to get hearing aids.

The story continues...

The inmates were part of a work release program that assists with various public works projects, a common practice across the state.

“They help our maintenance (department)," Langley said. "They do everything from mowing, sewer, water, everything they need them for they use them.”

There have been no problems with the inmate work crews in the past, she said. In his capacity as a city councilman, Smith was the liaison for the maintenance department.

It's really easy to condone and criticize this guy, but lets give him credit for one thing. Instead of giving these inmates busy work like picking up trash along a highway or making specialty license plates, he put their talents to use and had them steal copper. I think that's one of the first things they teach criminals in Petty Crime School. Maybe next time around, Smith can have them steal catalytic converters from all the city maintenance trucks.

So, how much did he make from this crime?

Luther police reported the theft to the Oklahoma County sheriff in January, and investigators learned the stolen wire was sold for $157.

Smith made less than $40 himself after paying the inmates, Whetsel said.

The inmates involved in the theft will not face charges because they thought Smith's instructions to remove the wires were lawful, the sheriff said.

This guy ruined his political career in Luther for $40? Eh, that doesn't seem like a bad trade. Maybe now he can afford to live somewhere that has tornado sirens. Plus, he still gets to manage the Chicago Cubs.

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