A Beardstown man is headed to the Illinois Department of Corrections for stealing copper off of agriculture equipment.
43 year old Christopher R. Welker of Beardstown was sentenced to two consecutive 18-month sentences in the Illinois Department of Corrections on two separate cases.
According to court records, Welker was arrested by Cass County Sheriff’s Deputies on October 27, 2021 for theft of between $500 to $10,000. According to States Attorney Craig Miller, Welker stole a Honda Motorcycle from a residence in Beardstown. The charge was amended in court yesterday to theft under $500 due to an open plea entered by Welker.
The second case stems from March 12th when Welker was charged for a single count of criminal damage to property between $500 and $10,000. According to a Journal Courier article at the time, Cass County Sheriff Devron Ohrn had been investigating copper thefts in the county since November 2021 where several irrigation systems had been damaged in efforts to steal copper wiring off of the field systems. Ohrn says the copper was then resold for approximately $200. Ohrn estimated damages to multiple systems across the county in the range of $7,000-$8,000 at the time of Welker’s arrest.
A third case of possession of methamphetamine less than 5 grams was also dropped per the plea.
Due to the open plea yesterday, Welker was also fined $200 for each charge and ordered to pay fines, fees, and court costs. Welker was also ordered to pay $9,000 in total to multiple complainants in the criminal damage case. Welker was given credit for 151 days served total for both cases.