Increase in copper wire theft at local substations

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HASTINGS, Neb., The Nebraska Public Power District says there has been an increase in copper wire theft in the state due to the rising price of copper.

The most recent theft occurred last week at a substation in the Hastings area.

NPPD says the average cost of copper wire is $2.67 a pound. But stealing it could make a person pay a much bigger price.

"Those who break into the substation to get the copper grounds or any kind of copper wire risk their lives," said Mark Becker, supervisor at the Nebraska Public Power District.

Officials say many who have attempted to steal copper wire from a substation have been electrocuted and killed.

One other concern is the risk of power outage. If electricity is cut off due to copper wire theft it may take several hours to get back on.

City Iron and Metal Company in Hastings has also had copper wire stolen before. Now they have eight cameras inside and outside their warehouse to prevent that.

The president of the company also works to make sure the copper they purchase has not been stolen.

"It requires ID checking, fingerprints, visual photographs of the material, as well as cash payouts limited to $100 and everything else must be done by check," said Chuck Rosenberg, president of City Iron and Metal Company.

Chuck says there have been fewer cases of people trying to sell the company stolen wire now that these policies are in place. Thieves simply don't want to be caught and thrown in jail.