Published: Sep 14, 2010 5:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 14, 2010 2:07 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Charlotte County Sheriff's detectives continue their investigation in the theft of 12,000 feet of copper wire being pulled from street lights along U.S. 17 between North and South Washington Loop roads Monday, east of Punta Gorda.

CCSO received a call at 4:12 a.m. from a man who reported seeing a man wearing all black including black gloves and a ski mask over his face. The caller said the man in black saw him and ran into a wooded area. Road deputies responded along with a K9 unit and CID detectives. A check of the area revealed multiple street lights were found not working and access panels had been opened at the base of each pole; copper wires had been cut and pulled free from each light pole.

During the K9 track, a back pack was found that was dropped by the thief, but the suspect could not be found. Detectives said 2,000 feet of the copper wire was recovered alongside the roadway at U.S. 17 and Heister St.; it was turned over the Charlotte County Lighting. Detectives said the backpack contained several cutting tools, narcotics, drug paraphernalia and prescription bottles. The investigation continues in locating a suspect.