(credit: Denton County Sheriff’s Office)

(credit: Denton County Sheriff’s Office)

DENTON COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A suspected copper thief is hospitalized at Parkland Hospital after being nearly electrocuted in Denton County.

Officials with the Denton County Sheriffs Office say 24-year-old James Johnson was committing the crime on Sunday, near Aubery, when he was seriously burned.

Denton County Sheriff spokesperson Sergeant Larry Kish said Johnson was trying to steal expensive metal when he grabbed hold of a live wire. “He had been stealing copper wire. The utility pole, the wooden utility pole, had been burned to the ground, and he was in the process of removing wire from that pole.”

Investigators believe Johnson was nearly crushed when the pole fell to the ground and in his attempt to protect himself, reached out and grabbed the wire.

It was a move that Sgt. Kish said was nearly fatal. “I know in other cities there have been people that were trying to steal wire that have been electrocuted. Usually the result of that is death, so he is very fortunate to be alive.”

Kish said Johnson admitted what he had done and said he was stealing to try and support his drug habit. “He talked to investigators today. He did confess to his actions.”

Johnson is in stable condition and once released from the hospital will face charges of Arson, and Criminal Mischief.

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