Copper wires and other electricity-related assets can be attractive targets for thieves -- but stealing electrical infrastructure carries risks beyond the legal realm.
The Associated Press is reporting that police have found evidence of an attempt to steal $100 worth of copper wiring from an electrical substation in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The evidence, which reportedly includes a melted hacksaw covered in soot, suggests that a thief broke into the substation and came in contact with live wires carrying 23,000 volts. Yesterday's incident apparently caused a small explosion and temporarily disrupted the power supply to the local area. The police have stated that the would-be thief is likely severely injured or dead.
Copper thieves are presumably hoping to cut the metal out of its installation and sell it for scrap. While the value of bulk quantities of scrap copper has been at a relative historic high, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that copper pricing has fallen due to expected decreases in European economic activity, selling on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex division for $3.39 per pound. It would be a desperate thief indeed who risks electrocution for any price, let alone copper's scrap value.
This incident follows on a report earlier this month of the arguably more sophisticated theft of solar panels, inverters and batteries from U.S. Forest Service facilities in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.