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LIVE WIRE: Metal Theft Threatens Safety, Lives

Would you risk being struck by lightning for $100? Seems a bit ludicrous, but desperate times cause folks to do foolish things.

Theft of copper, aluminum, and bronze is scarce in our area, thankfully, but when it does happen, the results could be deadly. We need your help to keep our equipment safe, prevent outages, and save lives.

At a substation in Cochranton recently, metal thieves took off with less than $100 worth of wire, but they are fortunate they left alive.  They left behind thousands of dollars worth of a repair bill for our linemen and members to take care of.  It’s hard to understand why folks would put their life on the line for a few dollars. Any damage done to our system packs a big punch, since equipment can be ruined without the protection copper wires provide. There’s also the potential for loss of life.

We use copper to ground our equipment, protecting it from electrical surges and lightning by giving electricity a safe path to ground.  Copper is an essential component in our business and the theft of this safety mechanism puts our employees at risk as well as those that attempt to steal it.  This is not something we take lightly.

Our linemen are highly trained professionals who understand the dangers of working with electricity and take proper safety precautions. There is a reason our substations are surrounded by secure fencing and warning signs are posted:  to protect the public.  Unfortunately, some thieves will not be deterred.

Please help us prevent these thefts. If you notice anything unusual, such as an open substation gate, open equipment, or hanging wire or unauthorized personnel around our facilities, call Northwestern REC immediately at 1-800-352-0014 and the police.  Anyone with information on the Cochranton theft is asked to contact the Meadville State Police barracks at 814-332-6911.