A dramatic increase in copper wire thefts from company facilities has American Electric Power officials concerned.
They strongly encourage customers, as well as the general public, to promptly report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement officials with a quick call to 911.
"We are seeing an increase in copper thefts from AEP facilities throughout the Ohio Valley," Phil Lewis, Ohio Valley District distribution system manager, said. "This creates serious safety hazards and service reliability issues for us and our customers. We want the public to be aware of the dangers as well as the consequences of this grave activity."
Theft of copper wiring often results in power outages and damages to customers' personal electronic equipment. It exposes utility employees to undue electrical hazards when grounding wires are stolen, and it can kill or seriously injure people involved in the act.
Beyond safety issues, stealing electrical equipment is illegal. In many cases, thieves are risking their lives for very little.
When caught they can be prosecuted for much more than the value of the wire, including such things as the cost of repairs and overtime for workers, according to AEP.
AEP offers a reward of up to $5,000 to anyone with information resulting in the arrest and conviction of an individual or individuals stealing or vandalizing AEP equipment.
All AEP employees and contractors carry proper identification and drive company-marked vehicles.
If in doubt, contact local law enforcement to report any suspicious activity or tampering in or around electrical facilities. Additional information about metal theft can be found at bit.ly/CopperTheftKills.
AEP is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.