Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

September 5, 2013

Police searching for gas line vandals

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Effingham police are seeking those involved in vandalizing gas lines under construction at various points on North Merchant Street.

Police stated in a news release a number of Ameren gas lines were drilled into at the intersections of Merchant Street and Kentucky, Illinois and Eden avenues sometime between 8 p.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday, causing an estimated $10,000 in damage.

Det. Sgt. Todd Ebbert of the Effingham Police Department said about a dozen holes were drilled into both plastic and metal lines being installed at the various locations. The lines are being laid about 4 1/2 feet deep and are believed to have been caused by a 3/8-inch drill bit.

While the case is being investigated as vandalism, Ebbert did say information about the case was forwarded to the State Terrorism Information Center.

Ameren Illinois spokesman Brian Bretsch said the company was working with local police in an effort to determine the source of the vandalism. Importantly, Bretsch said the vandalized lines were not in service so that gas service to the north side neighborhood was not interrupted.

Bretsch said the vandalism should not delay completion of the project more than a few days. He declined to say whether there had been similar incidents on other Ameren lines.

Ebbert said those with information on the vandalism are encouraged to call Effingham Crimestoppers at 217-347-6583. Information about the incident has also been posted on the Crimestoppers' Facebook page.

Police had no leads by Thursday afternoon, Ebbert said.