Scrap metal thefts spike, PPL warns of danger

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jun 10, 2013 1:34 PM
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(Allentown) -- Scrap metal theft has been a problem in several midstate communities, and PPL Electric Utilities is now responding to a marked increase in substation break-ins through the first half of the year.

The company has documented about two dozen incidents so far in 2013.

Electric substations may seem temping to a scrap metal thief because of the copper grounding wire, which could be snipped, carried away and sold for scrap. But PPL spokesman Joe Nixon calls it a dangerous proposition.

"I think it's a couple of dollars a pound for copper wire," Nixon says, "and really it's not worth getting yourself seriously injured or killed."

Nixon says the company is implementing additional security measures and studying others, but he won't discuss specifics.

In addition to the danger posed to the thieves themselves, substation break-ins can put utility workers' safety at risk when they arrive to make repairs. The cost of repairs is ultimately covered by the ratepayers.

Several bills have been introduced in the General Assembly that would require additional reporting on the part of scrap yards, and impose stiffer penalties on dealers who accept stolen metals.

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