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Copper Crime


Help Us Battle Copper Crime If you notice anything unusual, call KEC immediately


Metal theft—the crime that endangers lives and can result in thousands of dollars in damages ultimately paid for by you—continues to plague elec- tric utilities all over America. Copper wire is appealing to thieves who look to sell it for scrap. Burglars often climb power poles, scale fences, and break into buildings to steal the precious metal—almost always endangering themselves and others in the process. Between 2001 and 2008, the price of cop- per skyrocketed 500 percent. After a brief decline in 2009, it has hovered at a strong $3.40 per pound for the past several years.


“To a would-be thief,


stealing copper may seem like a quick way to make a buck,” says Kay Electric C.E.O. Joe Harris. “But it’s illegal, it’s costly, and it’s not worth a life. Working with any metal and electricity is a dangerous combination, even for trained employees using proper equipment.”


Some electric coopera- tives stamp copper and alumi- num wire with an ID number to deter theft. Stolen wire is commonly brought to recycling centers and traded for cash. Although many state laws re- quire recycling centers to keep


records of transactions, enforce- ment can be difficult. Without identifying marks, stolen wire is hard to track and rarely recov- ered. Legislation introduced on the federal level aims to improve tracking and impose stiffer pen- alties; most states have tough- ened metal theft laws over the past few years as well.


Thieves may not under- stand that they are risking their lives by taking copper from util- ity poles or substations, where high transmission voltage is stepped down to a lower current for distribution lines. KEC urges you to follow these guidelines to guard against electrical dangers and prevent copper theft. • Never enter or touch equip- ment inside a substation; stay away from power lines and any- thing touching a power line. • If you notice anything unusu- al with electric facilities, such as an open substation gate, open equipment, or hang- ing wire, contact your KEC immedi- ately. • If you see anyone around electric sub- stations or electric facilities other than KEC personnel or contractors, call the police.


Burnt Voltage Regulators


All three of these voltage regulators at a substation in Georgia were destroyed when a suspected metal thief cut a ground wire. Estimated cost for the lost equipment was $75,000.


Source: Georgia Transmission Corporation Kay Electric Cooperative • 5


• Install motion-sensor lights on the outside of your house and business to deter possible thieves. • Store tools and wire cutters in a secure location, and never leave them out while you are away. • If you work in construc- tion, do not leave any wires or plumbing unattended or leave loose wire at the job site, espe- cially overnight. • Help spread the word about the deadly consequences that can result from trying to steal copper or aluminum wire. Please help us prevent these thefts. If you notice any- thing unusual, call KEC imme- diately at 1-800-535-1079. If you see anyone other than KEC personnel or contractors around substations or other electric


facilities, call the police. Source: Cooperative Research Network


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