Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

Holy crap! Our infrastructure which is beginning to wheeze now is getting stolen by human vultures looking for quick cash.

Pretty sad situation.

BTW stealing copper wire from lines is very hazardous as this thief found out first hand.

Copper thieves stealing from power lines
Joe CongerKENS 5 Eyewitness News

Some copper thieves are going to great heights to steal the metal, and it's putting some residents at risk. CPS Energy says they're stealing from high-power lines in a rural area of southwest Bexar County.

Electricians say they are replacing more and more of it — copper wires taken from outside A/C units, from construction sites and even from public utilities.
Sam Parks only had to look up to know something was wrong. From utility pole to utility pole for a third of a mile, torn wire was left dangling.
"This is the most blatant, and in my opinion, the most potentially dangerous that I have seen," Parks said.
Suspended 20 feet in the air, what CPS Energy calls the neutral line, had been stolen for its copper.

It set off circuit alarms at the utility and is prompting an investigation by the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.
As a result of the theft, the 8,000-volt line began using Parks' electric box as a ground. It could have cost him his life had he gone to investigate.

"I would've become the path of least resistance, which is what electricity seeks to make the loop. And the results would've been, dare I say, shocking," Parks said.
More than 1,600 feet of copper was taken, and at $1.75 per pound, copper is a premium metal. The state mandates that anyone selling it provide identification to recyclers and other dealers.
But even recyclers say, despite the paperwork sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety, thefts continue.
"And nobody wants to look at it. We turn it in, once a month. So what?" said recycler Bob Brienden.

CPS is working with the sheriff's office on the case. CPS says touching any power lines can be deadly, not to mention, against the law.

Thieves targeting highway signs in Seguin
Nydia Lopez KENS 5 Eyewitness News

First it was copper, now it's aluminum. The new targets for thieves in Seguin are large highway signs.

The Guadalupe County Sheriff's Department is stumped, and deputies are asking for your help to corner these crooks. The signs are worth thousands of dollars.
They're not hard to miss, unless they're missing.
"It doesn't take but probably 10 minutes to drop the sign," said Russell Beck, with the Texas Department of Transportation's maintenance department.

Beck says it started in December. Thieves began targeting highway signs at night.
"We're assuming they're stealing them for the aluminum," Beck said.

Four signs have been stolen so far along Interstate 10.
"They're just dropping the signs at night and taking the signs and leaving the legs," Beck said.
Some of the signs that have been stolen measure 10 feet by 12 feet, weigh several hundred pounds and cost $3,000 or more each.

"They might be making a hundred bucks off of a sign that's costing us thousands," Beck said.
Replacement signs have been ordered and should arrive in about a month. The Guadalupe County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

There is a cash reward for any information leading to an arrest. Call the tip line at (830) 372-1000.