THIEVES STEAL DOWNED POWER LINES
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Emboldened by high copper prices, scrap metal thieves pounced downed power lines in Washington state following snowstorms last month despite the risk of electrocution, utility officials said.
In the Snohomish County Public Utility District alone, more than 600 metres of wire was taken from three locations after the snowstorms that began Nov. 26, utility spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.
The thieves delayed efforts to restore electricity to thousands of homes and businesses and put their own safety at risk because downed lines are usually still live, Neroutsos said.
"It's surprising that we haven't had any reported fatalities (in Snohomish County) yet," he said.
Earlier, at least three deaths linked to attempts to steal copper wire had been reported in the region - one in October in Clark County, another in May in Langley, B.C., south of Vancouver, and a third in September 2005 in Fife, a Tacoma, Wash., suburb.
Officials did not put a price tag on the wire stolen after the storms. But before the storms, the utility had lost US$11,000 worth of copper this year, Neroutsos said.
Copper prices appear to have levelled off and may even be declining, but it could be some time before thieves stop trying to steal wire, said Neil Hunt, manager of Diversified Recycling in Everett.
"The prices are still high everywhere," he said
(who thinks of these things???)
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