Copper Theft

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Copper Theft

The price of copper has skyrocketed in recent years. Scrap copper is selling for five times the amount it went for just 10 years ago.

Electric cooperatives in Tennessee use large quantities of copper and have been particularly hard hit by thieves. Cooper theft can severely damage a cooperative’s electric system and poses a serious safety threat for thieves as well as electric cooperative members and employees.

“The value of a few hundred dollars of scrap copper wire is certainly not worth someone losing their life,” said Duck River Electric Membership Corporation Safety Coordinator, Troy Crowell.

Recently, the DREMC service area was the target of copper thieves. During a routine inspection, over 80 utility poles were found to have been vandalized. This resulted in considerable expenses and roughly 80 man hours to repair the damage.

Efforts are underway to make it difficult to sell stolen copper. Laws were enacted in 2008 that require scrap-metal dealers to register with the Department of Commerce, sellers to provide a valid photo ID and all checks to be mailed to the address of the business.

Electric cooperative members can help, too. If you notice anything unusual, such as open substation gates, hanging wires or anyone other than utility personnel or contractors around substations or utility poles, immediately notify your local cooperative or law enforcement.

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