Brothers face felony charges after allegedly stealing copper wire from railroad

File photo: Gephardt Daily

GRAND COUNTY, Utah, Oct. 3, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Two brothers were arrested Thursday after officials say the truck they were driving was stopped by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper and was found to be full of copper signal wire stolen from the Union Pacific Railway.

According to a probable cause statement filed in 7th District Court in Moab by a Grand County Sheriff’s deputy, a UHP patrolman had made contact with a white Toyota Tacoma occupied by two men. The bed of the truck was full of signal wire from the Union Pacific just north of I-70, the document states.

UHP was looking for vehicles that may have been involved in the theft of the copper wire after a Union Pacific employee notified law enforcement of the theft.

The sheriff’s deputy responded to the Floyd wash off of I-70, where the trooper had stopped the truck.

Tyson Joseph Ward, 44, was the driver and registered owner of the truck, the statement says, and his brother, Thomas Jeffery Ward, 36, was the passenger.

An inventory of the vehicle revealed two battery-powered Milwaukee saws, both of which had copper on the blade from cutting the signal wire, the statement says.

“The Union Pacific Rail workers informed law enforcement that cutting the signal wire could in fact cause trains to collide with each other as signals could be interrupted,” the deputy wrote in the affidavit.

The document states that law enforcement at the scene witnessed an Amtrak train proceed slowly down the railway, as it had to be manually flagged through various sections of track due to the signal wire being cut.

Furthermore, the railway workers estimated the cost to replace the wire at $35,000, the document says.

According to the deputy, the UHP trooper told him that the Ward brothers admitted to stealing the copper from the railway.

Tyson and Thomas Ward were interviewed at Grand County Jail and, after being Mirandized, both agreed to talk to investigators, the statement says.

“Tyson stated that he thought the wires were inoperable because the wire was down in several areas,” the deputy wrote. “Tyson admitted that they had taken the wire as both brothers had recently been laid off from mining coal. Tyson estimated that they had harvested approximately a mile of the copper wire.”

According to the document, Tyson Ward “has a very limited criminal history with no previous thefts.”

Thomas Ward, however, “stated that he figured the line was for communication between the trains. Thomas stated he had done things like this before, that he was on parole for burglary, and he had just got out after five years of prison,” the document states.

Both Tyson and Thomas Ward are facing charges of:

  • Theft — value equals or exceeds $5,000, a second-degree felony
  • Criminal mischief — reckless cause/threat critical infrastructure, a second-degree felony


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here