Copper Theft Continues in SPEC Service Area
Last week, we reported that 10,000 feet of copper had been stolen from our poles in Live Oak County. The culprits are still at large and have now stolen an additional 5,000 feet of copper wire from our poles in Bee County.
The thefts have happened overnight along secluded county roads that don’t see a lot of traffic. We’re asking you to report anyone that appears to be working on our poles to your local sheriff’s department.
Our employees can be identified by a SPEC logo on their uniform and truck. No one else is authorized to work on our utility poles overnight. Stealing wire from a power pole is extremely dangerous for the thieves, and it could be hazardous for our employees and the public too.
These thieves are cutting the neutral wire on our poles, and are removing as much copper as they can without climbing the poles. They are also causing damage to the public. We know these thieves cut through a fence and accessed private property to get to the copper on a power pole.
While it hasn’t caused any service issues for our members, it is a big expense for the cooperative to go back and fix all of the damaged wire. Copper theft results in thousands of dollars in damages, and there isn’t an insurance option to cover the cost of power line theft. Copper theft is costing our co-op and ultimately our members.
Copper is valuable as scrap, and the profits can be tempting for thieves. Scrap dealers will pay nearly $3 per pound of copper. To fight back against this threat, SPEC has moved to using aluminum wire instead of copper over the last several years. It has a much lower scrap value and is less likely to be stolen.
However, there are still poles in our service territory with copper wire. With nearly 3,200 miles of line, it’s impossible to monitor every mile.
Again, we ask for your help in catching these thieves. If you notice anything suspicious, or know anything about these crimes, please contact your local sheriff’s office.