Copper theft has become a serious public safety issue in recent years as the price of copper in the U.S. has increased. People are increasingly being injured and killed while trying to steal copper wire. As a result, utilities across the country have been forced to respond with new measures for safeguarding their equipment and their employees from the dangers posed by these brazen thefts.

Dangers of Stealing Electric Wire

Electricity at any voltage is always dangerous and should be approached with caution. Contact can lead to electric shock, physical burns, neurological damage and death.

Stealing wire and equipment from utility facilities can also affect electric service, causing power surges, outages, fires, or explosions. Far worse, the damaged equipment that thieves have tampered with endangers the public and EPE employees who could come into contact with it.

Tips to Deter Copper Theft

If You See Something, Report It

Many copper theft crimes are thwarted because someone called the police when they saw something suspicious or unusual, especially a crew working at night from 10 p.m. to morning without proper lighting or signage to notify the public about men working.

Security cameras and alarm systems

  • Cameras should be digital and should be able to operate in low light levels/night operations.
  • Make sure that equipment can operate during a power failure for extended periods and is integrated with an alarm system with immediate notification for a law enforcement response.
  • Camera placement should be considered to cover exterior of building and cover areas that a vehicle can drive to on the rear and side of the property. They should be installed high enough to make it harder to be tampered with or taken out of service.

Building an alarm system

  • If it sends an alarm notification that may indicate a power-related problem caused by copper thieves, you should request immediate notification for a law enforcement response.
  • Review with your alarm company additional type of alarms that may be utilized.

Effective security lighting

  • Do you have enough lighting in the area you’re trying to protect?
  • Tour your property: A walk-around is your human intelligence on site. Do it regularly, and at different times of the day – and night.

Notify police

  • Always notify the police so they can document the theft and use the information about the theft to analyze the area and to assign their resources.
  • Develop a relationship with local law enforcement. Ask for their guidance in preventing metal theft at your business and what to do in the event a theft occurs.
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