Snohomish County Public Utility District reminds customers that if they see suspicious activity around utility poles, substations or transformers, they should call 911 to report it. With rising prices for metals, particularly copper, utilities are seeing more and more cases of wire theft.
Each theft can cost the PUD hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars since the utility not only has to replace the metal, but must make repairs to damaged equipment. The property damage by thieves stealing wire and metal often far exceeds the value of the materials stolen (up to 10 times or more) as they break into vehicles, supply yards and substations.
Moreover, there are significant safety issues. The criminals may not understand how much danger they are exposing themselves to when they come in contact with electrical facilities. They often work in or near energized equipment. Beyond putting themselves at risk, they also put the public and PUD employees at risk because they create significant electrical hazards by stealing wire and cable.
Every year, utilities around the United States report cases of theft that have resulted in accidental death from electrocution. In southern Washington, for example, a man was killed after apparently cutting his way through a fence and attempting to steal copper wiring worth just a few dollars. He made contact with energized, high-voltage equipment and was burned to death immediately.
The PUD asks customers for its help in reducing incidents of wire theft. If you see suspicious activity, call 911 to report the potential crime.