Copper theft is a community problem that is continuing to grow. Thieves have stolen air conditioners out of churches, equipment of out schools and wiring out of streetlights. Oncor, with its miles of distribution and transmission lines, is also a target for these thieves.
In the middle of the night on Feb. 7, two thieves stole more than 240 feet of copper wire worth more than $35,000 from a local Dallas business. These thieves risked their lives, inconvenienced the business owner and created additional costs for every ratepayer.
“Oncor is committed to the safety of our system and to the safety of the communities that we serve,” said Debbie Dennis, Oncor Vice President of Dallas Customer Operations. “Oncor is working with community leaders, business owners and the Dallas Police Department to find a way to put an end to these crimes.”
Oncor is also working with the North Texas Crime Stoppers to find the thieves. Oncor is offering $1,000 reward per suspect, while Crime Stoppers is offering an additional reward up to $1,000 per suspect. Both rewards will be given for the arrest and conviction of the thieves.
The safety of everyone involved is a huge issue. While Oncor monitors the safety of its substations and switchyards, when protective ground wires are stolen from them, anyone that comes in contact with them may be shocked or injured. Oncor urges consumers to leave the area and call 9-1-1 if an immediate danger is seen, such as a downed power line or exposed wire. If a crime in progress is seen, do not attempt to confront the thieves. Call 9-1-1 and let the police handle it.
Oncor is taking various steps to reduce the number of copper wire thefts. For example, Oncor is currently installing nanotechnology on its equipment to protect its system. The technology, which is invisible to the eye, marks Oncor equipment and particularly copper wire so that it can be identified after it has been stolen. Oncor also worked during the last legislative session to support changes to the law that would make it harder to sell the copper. These changes when implemented should help to act as a deterrent to copper theft.
Oncor is continually looking for new deterrents to further prevent these crimes and ways to help convict those who commit them. If you have any information dealing with these crimes please call, the North Texas Crime Stoppers at 1-877-373-8477.
Oncor is a regulated electric distribution and transmission business that uses superior asset management skills to provide reliable electricity delivery to consumers. Oncor operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, providing power to three million electric delivery points over more than 101,000 miles of distribution and 14,000 miles of transmission lines. While Oncor is a subsidiary of EFH, Oncor reports to a separate and independent board.