By MICHAEL GERSTEIN
Capital News Service
LANSING – They strike at nightfall, attaching heavy cables to trucks to rip exposed copper from irrigation systems and hawk it to unscrupulous scrap dealers. They are petty thieves, often methamphetamine addicts, investigators say. And they’re costing farmers thousands of dollars in repair costs and insurance rate hikes. Experts say the problem coincides with the rise and fall of copper prices. During the 2009 stock market crash thefts were rare.