SaskPower concerned with copper wire thefts from power poles
REGINA -- SaskPower is reminding the public about the dangers of tampering with power poles, because the company says people have been stealing copper wire from the infrastructure.
"Thieves are taking about four to six feet of copper grounding wire that go down power poles into the ground, and in doing so, whenever you're working with an active electrical system, there is inherent risk of electrocution," SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor said.
McGregor says anecdotally, each week copper is stolen from one to two poles in the province
“What we want to hammer home is how dangerous this is. I mean you are working on a power pole when you don't know necessarily what is electrified and what's not. So the risk of electrocution is real," McGregor said.
Since the thefts are not during scheduled maintenance, power is still flowing. So anyone tampering with the lines could get seriously injured or even die.
“People have to remember that they're working on power lines that are left on, so when they are attempting to make a theft, there is a huge public safety risk there with working on live power," Regina Police Service spokesperson Les Parker said.
As well, removing the copper can cause power outages, because the metal is used to ground the power system.
"If somebody steals from a power line and we have evidence to lay a charge, we're going to lay a theft charge," Parker said.
McGregor says besides it being illegal and dangerous, it's often not even worth selling.
"We typically replace it with this thing called copper cladding, it's a mixture of metals that has enough copper in it to do its job, but it's worthless out there in the market," McGregor said.
McGregor expects as the weather warms up, the number of thefts could also be going up, because now thieves have better temperatures to work in. Anyone who sees this should contact police right away.