Archive

Posts Tagged ‘copper’

AZ: Copper Thief Electrocuted

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Phoenix, AZ: A man was electrocuted and killed in Glendale in an apparent commercial copper theft gone wrong.

Glendale Police report a 57-year old man was found with third degree burns on 100 percent of his body at an abandoned commercial yard.

Police suspect the man was trying to steal copper out of a transformer and met his demise. His fatal efforts also knocked out power to 1,400 residential and business customers for about an hour, according to authorities.

Copper thefts are a big problem for commercial property owners, businesses and even schools and churches targeted by thieves.

Story via bizjournals.com

WA: Copper Theives Risk Electrocution

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Spokane, WA:  Thieves in northern Idaho and eastern Washington state are still targeting copper wire for the scrap market despite lower metal prices and electrocution risks, power company officials say.  Officials tell The Spokesman-Review that thieves cause higher electricity bills for customers and endanger the public by leaving live wires. Dan Kolbet, communications manager for Avista Utilities, said thieves have cut down live lines and climbed substation fences to steal equipment that could kill them.

“In the substation, it’s scary dangerous for the folks doing it, because if they cut the wrong wire they’re dead in about that fast,” Kolbet said, snapping his fingers.

Shawn Dolan is the manager of engineering at Kootenai Electric Cooperative, based in Hayden in northern Idaho.

“They’re not getting a lot of money for the damage they’re doing,” he told The Spokesman-Review.

He said the company recently discovered copper grounding wire, worth about $200 on the scrap metal market, missing from about 60 poles in rural areas north and south of Coeur d’Alene. He said it will cost about $10,000 to replace ground wires, with ratepayers paying for the thefts.

He also said the missing grounding wire means line crews don’t have a safety guard to tie into while working on the poles. And if a storm or car crash knocks down a pole, the wires might not de-energize properly. In addition, voltage fluctuations can be caused by improperly grounded power lines that can damage home electronics.

“For 200 bucks, what they’re doing is risking our workers’ safety, their lives. They could kill a lineman,” Dolan said. “They’re also potentially damaging other people’s electrical appliances.”

“That’s what amazes us more than anything,” said Pat Osborn, supply chain supervisor at Inland Power & Light Co., a rural electric co-op serving areas outside Spokane. “You look at minimum wage in Washington, and these guys could work an eight-hour shift and make quite a bit more.”

Jim Schrock of Earthworks Recycling in Spokane said he pays about $2.75 a pound for good copper, down from $3.30 two years ago. Both Idaho and Washington state have laws intended to deter metal thieves.

“We probably kick out six to 10 people a week,” said Schrock. “We basically say don’t come back and tell all your friends not to come in, because they’re acting squirrelly or they’re on a list where they’ve been convicted of crimes, or they’re trying to skirt the metal law.”

Story via seattletimes.com

 

Theives Stealing Copper from Electrical Equipment

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

A potentially deadly gas leak at a home on Glen Park Ave. is traced back to a series of break-and-enters in 13 Division. The thieves’ target? Copper pipes.

Brass and copper plumbing supplies valued at $600,000 are stolen from a business near Dixon Rd. and Highway 27. Eavestroughs made of copper are no sooner installed than they are swiped from homes.

The metal is by no means easy to steal, but that isn’t stopping thieves who recognize its rising value. With copper closing at a record US$4.63/lb. Monday, Toronto Police are on alert that there could be an increase in daring — and dangerous — robberies.

“People are stealing copper for the value of it. It is a concern,” said Toronto Police Const. Tony Vella. “We’ve had a few occurrences — one that could have been deadly.”

Toronto Police recently issued a warning after a “disproportionate number” of break-ins in Glen Park in northwest Toronto. After the copper pipes were cut in a vacant luxury home, Enbridge measured gas levels of more than 40 per cent inside. They caught the leak before it caused an explosion.

Thieves are so brazen that they will even steal copper from live transformer stations. Hydro One loses about $1 million a year from stolen copper, said Gregory Taylor, head of copper theft prevention.

In Feb. 2009, a 38-year-old Windsor man was electrocuted to death trying to steal copper from a Hydro One station.

The Bermondsey transformer station in Scarborough has been stripped of copper three times in the past five years — costing Hydro One $24,000 each time, Taylor said.

When thieves disrupt the copper grounding wires at transformer stations, they not only put their own lives in danger but also those of Hydro One workers who might not realize the station has been tampered with, Taylor added.

“It’s the public safety aspect of this that really concerns us,” Taylor said.

Since Taylor was assigned to copper theft in 2008, Hydro One has identified 45 transformer stations most targeted for break-ins, beefed up patrols and installed barbed-wire fences.

Meanwhile, contractors who work with copper said theft of the pricey metal is an ongoing problem.

Scraps of copper were stolen from the construction site at Old City Hall during the five-year restoration project, said Cameron Forbes, vice president of the contracting firm Heather & Little Limited.

Contractors are sometimes hired specifically to replace stolen copper, said Tom Shreeve, a manager at the Toronto-based Semple Gooder Roofing Corporation.

“We’ve undertaken repairs to replace copper that’s gone missing on a number of different types of buildings,” Shreeve said.

Triple M Metal in Scarborough, for one, pays up to $3.92/lb. for copper scraps. Scrapyards that buy and sell copper can also fall victim to thieves, said Len Shaw, executive director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI).

“You’ve got piles of it sitting in your yard. Literally, somebody could jump over the fence, throw it into his pickup truck, drive it into the scrap yard the next day and sell it back to the guy and he wouldn’t know,” Shaw said. “We’re very concerned about this.”

CARI helped develop a website where the North American scrap recycling industry can post reports of stolen materials. But Shaw admits there are challenges to tracking stolen copper.

“One piece of copper tubing is the same as another piece of copper tubing,” he said. “There is no way, unless it’s specifically marked, to determine where that piece of material came from. … Quite often material is stolen and then it’s deformed into pieces, squashed and things like that, so it doesn’t even look like what it was to begin with.”

Story via TheStar.com

Copper Thief Killed Trying to Cut Electrical Line

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — With high copper prices offering a tempting incentive to thieves, recent injuries and a death in North Carolina have underlined that the trade in plundered metal isn’t just illegal, it’s potentially fatal.

Thomas Freeman was killed Wednesday in Charlotte when he was electrocuted while trying to cut an electrical cable in a bid to steal copper, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

In Gastonia, police say two men were severely burned last month after an explosion that happened while they were trying to steal copper from an electrical substation.

“Wherever they’re going to get the most money, that’s where they’re going to go to,” regardless of the potential risk, said Gastonia Police Detective H. Houser.

As metal prices rise, police say, copper thefts are increasing. Growing awareness means easier targets like vacant homes and large exterior air conditioning units are getting more scarce, leading thieves to more dangerous targets.

Since the fall, a wave of thefts has been reported across North Carolina, ranging from private homes to churches.

On three occasions between mid-December and this week, thieves struck Gaston Skills, a nonprofit group that provides services to people with mental and physical disabilities in Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland counties.

Three big air conditioning units were stripped for copper, causing between $45,000 and $50,000 worth of damage, production manager Larry Wayne said.

“They absolutely gutted and destroyed the units,” he said. “It’s a disaster.”

The organization hopes insurance will cover most of the cost of damage, but is looking at $15,000 in out-of-pocket costs to beef up security, bringing in everything from video surveillance cameras to razor wire.

That’s money they’d rather be spending on programs for the 250 or so clients at two facilities.

“It means we have to tighten the belt another notch, I suppose,” Wayne said.

Copper prices actually fell slightly this week, dropping about 8 cents to $4.3295 a pound. After the price climbed by about 33 percent last year, analysts expect that to come down this year as global stockpiles begin to build up again.

At the Salvage America recycling center in Greensboro, though, scrap metal prices still lure thieves trying to make a fast buck, general manager Billy Jones said. Salvage America requires fingerprints and copies of driver’s licenses from members of the public looking to sell scrap metal, Jones said, which should theoretically deter thieves.

“I don’t understand it,” Jones said. “They get caught, I tell them they’re going to get caught, and they still do it anyway.”

Some thieves have even stolen copper from Salvage America and then tried to sell it back to them, Jones said.

“We’re not immune to it,” he said.

Houser said businesses looking to prevent theft should add video surveillance and keep the property lit at night. Most of the homes hit by thieves are vacant, so owners should make sure a house looks occupied even if waiting for tenants or new owners to move in, she said.

Copyright © 2010 Associated Press.
Story via Bloomberg.com

CA Shocked Killed Trying to Steal Electrical Wire

December 30, 2010 2 comments

PERRIS, CA – A Perris man was electrocuted [blogger’s note:  the media has misused the word “electrocution” here as this refers to someone who has died from electric shock.  The appropriate word to be used her is “shocked”] during an attempt to steal electrical box wires from a vacant warehouse in the area, authorities said Friday.

Jose Vargas, 30, was found with severe electrical burns on his body when deputies from the Perris station arrived Tuesday night at the 24100 block of Orange Avenue to assist fire officials with a call requiring medical assistance, Sgt. Scott Forbes said.

Forbes said a preliminary investigation shows that Vargas was in the process of stealing the wire from an electrical box when he was electrocuted.

The suspect was airlifted to a local hospital and is being treated for his injuries, Forbes said.

The Perris Burglary Suppression Team is investigating the incident.

Read more: http://www.swrnn.com/southwest-riverside/2010-12-30/news/suspect-electrocuted-during-robbery-attempt-in-perris#ixzz19derUocn

PA Man Electrocuted Climbing Pole to Steal Copper Wire

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

PALMERTON, Pa. — A Bethlehem man was found dead after police said he was climbing a power pole and came in contact with a live wire.

It happened just before midnight Saturday on the property of Horsehead Industries in Palmerton.

Police said they received reports of a man injured while attempting to cut copper wire from a pole.

When they arrived on scene, they found the body of 30-year-old Jojo M. Sullivan of Bethlehem.

The Carbon County Coroner said Sullivan died from a fatal electric shock, and pronounced him dead at the scene.

Palmerton Police continue to investigate the incident.

Story via WFMZ.com

NC Teen Electrocuted Trying to Steal Copper from Substation

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment
LAURINBURG, NC – A Laurinburg teenager was electrocuted while trying to steal copper, officials said.

Jeffery Caleb Frederick, Jr., 18, of Park Drive, received a fatal electric shock while breaking into a power substation near Wagram on Friday, according to Investigator Tina Strickland.

Two of his friends, 20-year-old Howard Worriax, Jr. and 47-year-old Barry Locklear, both of McGirt’s Bridge Road, Maxton, were helping Frederick in the theft attempt, Strickland said.

After Frederick received the high-voltage shock, Worriax and Locklear drug him to Frederick’s Toyota Camry and drove him to the intersection of McGirt’s Bridge Road and Lee’s Mill Road, Strickland said. They placed Frederick in the driver’s seat and walked a mile to their home.

Strickland said the pair never attempted to find medical aid for the 18-year-old and failed to contact authorities.

The pair are charged with concealing or failing to report a death, according to a sheriff’s report.

Bond was set at $20,000 for Locklear, while a bond had not been set by press time for Worriax, according to Strickland.

Strickland said had they called EMS, the pair would only face misdemeanor charges of larceny and trespassing instead of a felony.

She added that the property’s owner could still press charges in the theft.

Sheriff Shep Jones said this adds to a string of unsuccessful attempts at stealing wiring.

“We’ve made several arrests in the past couple of weeks for the theft of copper wire,” he said.

Jones said it was “unfortunate” that someone lost their life while trying to harvest the metal from a live substation.

“Hopefully people can learn from this, that this is not a wise thing to do

and that it’s just not worth it to do something like this.”

He also said he did not know why

“I don’t know if it was panic on their part or what, but unfortunately they did not report it and by not reporting it, they are charged with a felony,” he said.

Jones thought it tragic that a teen lost his life.

“Our prayers go out to the family,” he said.

Lockelar has had more than two dozen prior convictions for charges including breaking and entering, larceny, and receiving stolen goods

Read more: The Laurinburg Exchange – Deputy Teen electrocuted in theft attempt