Copper wire theft is hazardous

By Diona Eskew
Staff Writer

MARSHALL COUNTY — A recent theft of copper wire from a Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) substation has sprouted an investigation.
“Several hundred feet of copper wire and copper lugs were stolen from the Burr Oak substation,” said NIPSCO Director of External Communications Nick Meyer. “Unfortunately, with serving 32 counties, we see these kind of incidents sometimes.”
Thieves target copper wire to sell it to scrap dealers. The theft isn’t just a criminal matter. It could be a matter of life and death.
“There was an incident in Gary where a 48 year old man was killed when he sliced into a live wire while trying to steal it,” said Meyer. It wasn’t the man’s first time stealing copper wire.
The voltage can range between 220 volts to 7,200. However some high voltage lines can reach 765,000 volts. The danger associated with the electricity is the reason why security measures are in place by electric companies.
“We want to keep everyone safe from electrocution,” said Meyer. “We use security measures such as high fencing with barbed wire and infrared camera systems.”
There are standard legal procedures for dealing with copper theft.
According to Meyer, “in recent years the legislature increased the penalty for copper wire thefts from a Class D felony to a Class C felony if proven the materials were stolen from a utility or infrastructure.”
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department is asking that any individuals with information regarding the incident, which occurred sometime between the end of June and July 9, call 574-936-3187.