East Texas authorities, electric companies see rise in copper thefts

Crime & Public Safety

RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – After a man got shocked for climbing a pole to steal copper, the Rusk County sheriff discussed how prevalent copper theft has been.

Copper theft can cause severe injuries and kill those who are stealing it, even threatening the public.

Johnwayne Valdez, the Rusk County Sheriff, explained that the price of copper is very expensive.

“Copper 1 is about $3 a pound, and copper 2 is about $3.20 a pound,” Sheriff Valdez said.

The copper thefts are usually cashed in at salvage yards.

Sheriff Valdez said they have been closely monitoring, because some yards won’t accept large quantities because of suspicion of theft.

“I want to say its advantageous to them, but with the price being a little high than what it has been in several years, this is going to become more of a problem again,” Sheriff Valdez added.

In addition to the thefts, those who steal copper from power lines can cause outages to electrical systems.

“There are problems with our electrical equipment that we can detect on our system,” Peter Main a SWEPCO Corporate Communication Manager explained. “But it is vandalism (and it does) damage to our electrical system.”

Main added that the thefts from power lines can impact customers and that it can be very expensive to make repairs.

“Those are costs to SWEPCO and to our customers,” Main added. “So it’s not just an inconvenience, it’s a cost issue as well too.”

Stealing copper isn’t easy, and is time-consuming and dangerous. It is recommended to have camera systems in home to keep a close eye on a property.

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