Utility pole cut down to steal copper wiring

January 29, 2010 12:02:40 PM PST
Thieves in the East Bay cut down power lines to steal copper wiring. The power lines are at Old County Road and San Pablo Avenue near Rodeo. There are over 100 PG&E customers still without power because of the incident.

The thieves used a handsaw to cut down the pole a little after midnight. Lucky for the would-be thieves, there was no danger to them from these particular power lines.

"The section in question here was actually a line that was out of service, but what happened was when the power pole was taken down and the wire came down, it compromised the stability of power poles and lines on the other section of this highway, " said PG&E spokesman Blair Jones.

We may never know if the crooks, who left behind a pair of bolt cutters, knew there was no juice in the lines. But a man who tried to steal copper power lines just up the hill from here last October paid the price of not knowing.

"That person was found that night and flown to the burn unit of UC Davis Medical Center for injuries he sustained while climbing up the telephone pole to cut the wire," said East Bay Parks Police Sgt. Dale Davidson.

Also paying a price are the people whose power has been knocked out, and some of their pets.

"It's a major inconvenience. I have reptiles and they have to be kept under heat lights and everything is off," said Megan.

With the economy recovering and demand increasing in China, copper prices are back over $3 a pound again, increasing copper crimes nationwide.

Thieves stripped it from this Concord Food Bank just before Christmas and have been consistently ripping it off from that city's parks and streets for the past few months.

In this community with no electrical power, folks are feeling powerless to solve the problem.

"I wish they would catch some of them, it would be some major prosecution," said Megan.

Back in 2008, California lawmakers passed a bill to make it more difficult for thieves to sell their stolen copper to recycling yards. If you bring in more than 20 pounds of copper, you have to have a photo ID, get your picture taken again and get pictures of your copper taken. Apparently somebody has found a way around that law and at least one of those people is on the loose right now.