â€œTampering with power lines or substations is a federal offense,â€ said Interim Energy Manager, Mario Escalera. â€œNot only is the practice of stealing copper illegal, it is also very dangerous.â€
Earlier this week, district employees came across what appears to be a theft gone wrong. At least one individual on the scene required medical attention for what appeared to be electrical burns. Incidents like this are common across the country, with the worst incidents resulting in death.
â€œStealing copper is not only dangerous to the thieves themselves, but it also places our field crews and the public at risk,â€ added Escalera. â€œThese crimes affect all of us as rate payers, and once the perpetrators are caught, we will pursue prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.â€
This weekâ€™s incident is not the first theft of district property this year. IID has documented more than 35 incidents in 2012â€”resulting in more than $400,000 in costs to IID ratepayers.
Anyone with information regarding copper theft is encouraged to call authorities. In Imperial County, call the Crime Prevention Hotline at 760-339-6333. In Riverside County, call Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP (7867). Tips that result in the prosecution and conviction of a metal thief will be eligible for a monetary reward. For more information, please call the district at 1-800-303-7756.