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Copper thefts on the rise

— The rising price of copper has led to an increase in crime, and Vermont is not immune.

The Vermont State Police and Vermont Department of Public Service, along with officials from Vermont Electric Cooperative, Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service, released a new warning about the dangers of copper theft.

The latest warning was issued July 29 after a wave of break-ins, including recent incidents at two Vermont Electric Cooperative substations and two Green Mountain Power substations.

“The person or persons responsible for these thefts do not realize the extreme danger they put themselves into. Cutting a ground wire is not without risk as they carry current and the effect could be deadly,” said engineer Hans E. Mertens of the Vermont Department of Public Service. “The value of copper stolen can never outweigh the value of a life.”

Mertens said several deaths have occurred in the past year as criminals attempted to remove copper content from electric utility fences and equipment. Copper thieves routinely target vacant business and homes as well as electrical substations, cellular telephone towers and silos, telephone land lines, railroads and water wells, according to Mertens.

People who see anything suspicious near a substation or a utility property should call 911.

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