Monday, March 7, 2011

The real cost of Copper Theft

The Threat Copper Thefts
Are posing to First Responder

Ever since scrap copper prices started rocketing towards $2.00 a pound it seems every simple minded piece of street slime scum and junkie has decided to make them selves rich by stealing copper from any where and every where costing home and building owners and especially utility companies millions of dollars in damage.
In some cases the damage caused has been severe to the point near Youngstown Ohio and here in Western Pa. in Stowe Twp. Copper thieves pierced a gas line while removing the copper which resulted in an empty residence exploding. Luckily no one was hurt in both cases. But both homes had to be demolished. A customer of mine who bought a home converted into a business along Pa. 51 in Baldwin Boro. And which was sitting empty had the building burglarized several days after he bought it. And thought the burglars had not taken anything because the building was empty when he asked me to put a simple burglar alarm in till building could be renovated. We found out what the burglars took when the toilet would not flush while we were looking the building over. The burglars turned off the water and took all the pipes out of the basement. But this is not always the case cut off water lines have been left running in buildings causing major damage. Even though the burglars in this case were courteous and shut off the water so it would not cause damage the hot water tank still was on and once the water left in the tank would have totally boiled out a fire or explosion could have resulted.
Of course there has been some vengeance on copper thieves a couple of them bold enough to steal copper from power company’s have lost there lives by cutting into what they thought were dead power lines. In the 80’s after the steel mills here mostly closed in Pittsburgh several individuals lost there lives by trying to steal still energized lines and or falling into uncovered pits etc. But in most cases the thieves have caused thousands of dollars in dollars of damage in power company substations and turned off power to communities at the same time. It happened in the Manchester section of Pittsburgh’s North Side when a group of bold thieves actually tunneled into a substation stealing copper buss bars and knocking power out for 20 blocks. Radio, TV and Cellular phone tower sites have had thousands of dollars in damage as well when copper grounding strips have been ripped off at tower sites as well this exposes these thieves to high levels of High RFI Magnetic Radiation fields and they can suffer terrible health consequences
Years later and never know why .If you are called for a gas odor investigation to a home or business which appears empty automatically think safety first and take extreme caution as you may well have a structure full of explosive gas because of a copper theft.
The structure may well be on its way to being ready to explode at any minute .The same precautions should be taken for calls to empty structure if water is observed running out as well a copper theft has possibly taken place and the structure could be full of gas .The same safety first should take place when responding to sub station electrical emergency’s
Keep your distance and be careful thieves’ actions may well have caused the problem
And you could be stepping into a very dangerous situation. The same precautions when responding to tower sites must be observed as well if thieves were stealing copper around a tower base they could have loosened the towers guy wire system and these wires are tightened to 1200 ft pounds a wire coming loose is like a buzz saw and can cut a vehicle in 2 including you as well.
Until the price of copper goes back down and commodities like copper pipe and wire become more affordable you can continue to expect to see more and more boldness from these thieves who have no conscious and could care less what there actions cause.
Currently an individual has been electrocuted from trying to steal copper from a substation in Lawrence county Pa.
and Verizon communications has posted a $25,000.00 reward because of thefts of its phone cables along rural roads in Fayette County pa. which has put many citizens life's at risk with no phone service.

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