Dallas Copper Bandits

Rumor: A graphic image set illustrates the gruesome fates of two copper thieves in Dallas.

Claim:   A graphic image set illustrates the gruesome fates of two copper thieves in Dallas.



[Collected via Internet, September 2009]

Roma youth wanted to steal cable …

[Collected via Internet, May 2010]

Downtown Dallas job over the weekend. They were trying to pull a hot 13,200 volt copper wire out of a conduit. Note the bolt cutter and the copper wire on the ground. It still stinks out here! How the hell can they not know that this sub-station was super hot? No problem — they won’t bother one again!

I’ve been seeing alot of shit when I search google: people have this shit on their blog and say that it happened in California or Oklahoma… it’s bullshit. So everyone who is making up a bunch of bullshit needs to learn to fucking read. It happened in downtown Dallas (that’s in Texas for those of you who haven’t caught up yet.) All the shit I see in other peoples blogs is ridiculous. That they committed suicide, were on PCP. Really, your that bored? Bored enough to make up shit you have no idea what really happened? The point is to show that you don’t have to be high, suicidal, homicidal or crazy to get killed by electricity. It is extremely dangerous.

[Collected via Reddit, February 2012]

Yeah, except this happened in South Africa and those guys were probably destitute and desperate. Doesn’t make what they’re doing right… but I can’t condemn them to death as easily as you can.

[Collected via Twitter, April 2015]

Copper thieves pulling live wire of 13,200 volts in Dallas . I don’t know why would some people risk there 2 danger


Origins:   In or around September 2009 a set of photographs (later commonly known as “Dallas copper thieves” or “Dallas copper bandits”) began circulating on the Internet. The images were frequently posted and reposted on Internet forums and social media sites, particularly those devoted to exceptionally gruesome deaths:

The photographs remained popular in part due to the overwhelming assumption that the dead men were clearly up to no good (i.e., stealing copper, and presumably interfering with vital electrical systems) when they met their ends. While the nature of the images was both upsetting and graphic, viewers felt uncharacteristically comfortable sharing them

because of they were perceived to depict a just outcome: The men died, but they wouldn’t have if they weren’t stealing copper … in Dallas, Detroit, Oklahoma, Oahu, Hungary, or South Africa.

During American discussions of the photos, commenters predominantly stated that the incident shown had occurred at a “Dallas sub-station” and happened “a few months back,” though some commenters chimed in to claim the incident as local to them in other states. The photographs appeared in September 2009 on a Hungarian web site, and in that version the dead men were identified as “Roma youth” (presumably local to page’s creator). That set of photographs was larger than the one circulated in later versions of the rumor and included a sign that provided clues as to the scene’s true location:

On 19 October 2009, the photographs were shared to a gruesome death-based forum, but no backstory was provided for them. That iteration dropped some of the original set’s photos, among them the sign depicted above. On 21 March 2010, a blogger published the photographs in a post titled “Dallas Copper Bandits (Extremely Graphic)”.

As far as we can tell, the images in question first appeared in September 2009 on a now-defunct and controversial South African blog. Although the initial attribution has been lost with any archived copies of that post, available evidence indicates the pictures were not taken in Dallas (or any other portion of the United States) as is often claimed. However, the identities of the men in the images, details of the circumstances under which they died, and the precise location where the pictures were taken remain a mystery.

Last updated:   17 April 2015