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Thieves put lives at risk for scrap copper

Monday, July 04, 2011

Thieves nearly killed themselves when attempting to steal copper wire from a live section of Powerco's electricity network on the outskirts of Palmerston North.

Thieves nearly killed themselves when attempting to steal copper wire from a live section of Powerco’s electricity network on the outskirts of Palmerston North.

The person who cut a live 11kV cable is extremely lucky to be alive and is likely to have suffered burns from an explosion.

On 21 February, a thief or thieves entered a secure compound at the old Longburn substation and cut the cable with a hacksaw. This resulted in an explosion that would have burned any exposed skin.

The cable had been cut at the base of a pole, causing an outage on the Awapuni feeder at 2.30pm.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said the company had noticed thieves were taking more extreme risks when trying to remove copper from the network.

He said Powerco’s primary concern was that the thieves could seriously injure or electrocute themselves or their associates by cutting into live wires. “Powerco is focused on operating a safe and reliable network and the actions of these individuals is unbelievable.”

Mr Marsh said copper thefts from electricity networks is becoming more common.

“If scrap metal dealers in area are being offered large amounts of copper wire, we would like to hear from them. We want this behaviour stopped immediately before someone is seriously injured or killed.”

Powerco urges members of the public noticing any suspicious behaviour around the electricity network to contact Powerco on 0800 769372 or the police.

Powerco is prepared to pay a reward of up to $5000 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and a subsequent reparation order imposed on the offender or offenders. The reward will be based on the amount of reparation ordered.

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