The partially decomposed body of a man was discovered beneath a house on at 4241 New Tampa Highway on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The house has been vacant and deteriorating for the last 30 years but the owner obviously still pays the electric bill because the power was on. While not named, the unknown owner claimed they left the power on to discourage theft. In this instance the precaution worked but may not have produced the results the owner actually intended.
The Polk County medical examiner and police identified the decomposing body to be that of a Lakeland, Florida resident named Danny Hall. Hall, aged 47, had been reported missing from his Lakeland residence since Aug. 17, 2014. The deceased brother claimed that Danny Hall may have been searching for copper to sell when he inadvertently came into contact with power lines that were live. The brother denies any involvement in any theft.
Times are still tough for many people in Florida. Copper theft has been increasing as the price paid for scrap copper has increased in 2014. Most scrap recyclers in the area have become wary of copper thieves and will not accept large amounts of copper from a single individual that is not associated with a reputable company. Still, the theft of copper continues and even churches are not immune from copper thieves.
The local police usually assume that people that steal copper from residences and businesses do so to feed a drug habit. In many instances this is true but many copper thieves just plain need the money to survive. It may be easier to steal than work but when you are 47 years old the job opportunities become limited.
This appears to be the case with Hall. Hall’s wife Debra claims that Hall was stealing copper to pay his electric bill. Hall left his home with a promise to return in three hours but obviously never did. The small amount of copper wire found near Hall’s body attests to the validity of the assumption that Hall was stealing copper wire and died from an accidental electrocution. Hall’s bicycle was found at the scene of the tragedy.
Obviously, Danny Hall met his fate though ignorance or an unintended error. Hall probably cut into a live wire and being grounded under the house was electrocuted. The death has been ruled accidental by the Polk County medical examiner.
No records of arrest for copper theft can be found for Danny Hall. He was claimed to have been a person that would do anything for anyone. Hall’s wife and brother were at the scene of the accident and identified the bicycle and clothing of the deceased but could not identify the man directly due to the advanced state of decomposition.
Poverty, ignorance, and theft appear to be a recipe for death if a person decides to steal copper. One might think that Lakeland and Polk County may use Hall’s death in a public service campaign with a lead in like “Copper theft can kill you. It killed Danny Hall.” Fifty dollars’ worth of copper just is not worth losing your life over.