PUD Asking People to Report Copper Theft - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PUD Asking People to Report Copper Theft

KENNEWICK, Wash.- A recent string of copper theft in the area has utility leaders warning people of the dangers of the robberies, and not just for the person stealing it.

It's a crime to steal copper, but it can also be deadly, and not just for the person stealing.

Copper prices are at a high now, about $4 a pound, and offcials say people are stealing it to feed drug habits.

Benton PUD and the City of Richland are warning people to stop stealing, especially from substations.

When people cut the copper ground wires in the stations, they risk their lives, and the lives linemen.

"When somebody cuts those wires away from pieces of equipment, whether they're in a substation and especially in a substation, is that that piece of equipment then becomes energized at the primary voltage, which is normally 7,200 volts," said Stephen Frost, a utility safety official. 

Frost said workers then go in to make a repair, and don't know that the equiopment is live, endangering them.

Officials are asking you to call 911 if you see any suspicious activity, and call your local utility if you've had anything stolen.