GREENSBURG (KDKA) — Allegheny Power is issuing a warning to people who have been stealing copper wire from substations in Westmoreland County.
The warning comes after a thief was most likely seriously burned by a live wire that he or she came into contact with during a recent theft.
Over the last two months, there have been four thefts at three substations.
Officials believe the thieves are jumping or cutting their way through fences that surround the facilities then stealing copper grounding wire from inside.
Copper grounding wire runs in a grid under the substation and keeps employees and the public from being shocked in the event of an equipment malfunction. When the grid is compromised, it creates a major safety hazard.
The utility believes that a thief may have been seriously injured after coming into contact with a live wire that was found after a recent theft.
The substations are high voltage facilities conducting up to 138,000-volts of electricity. Utility officials say that’s enough power to kill on contact.
The thefts also pose reliability issues. The utility says a small theft can leave an entire town without power.
In all, thieves have caused around $10,000 in damage during these recent thefts. They have also stolen thousands in tools from a shed at one site.
Officials say it’s not about the money, but rather about safety. They don’t want to see someone get seriously injured or killed unnecessarily.
Officials say thefts go up any time the price of copper goes up, which is happening right now.
Allegheny Power is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to an arrest in these recent thefts. If you have any information, you are asked to contact the Allegheny Power Security Division at 724.838.6565.
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