Copper Theft at numerous PECO substations in Levittown
Numerous PECO properties in the Levittown area have had copper grounding wire, which authorities say is worth about $3 a pound, stolen over the past several months.
Substation safety needs grounding wire to protect workers and the power grid by acting as a safe pathway for excess electricity to harmlessly enter the Earth. Copper is used due its conductivity. Local authorities have previously said theft of the grounding wire can cause risk of death or serious injury to PECO employees.
The suspects would use bolt cutters to punch a hole through the fence that surrounds PECO substations. Inside, they would pull the wire from the ground and cut it loose. Many times, a driver would drop off the thieves, leave the vicinity, and pick them up so they could make their getaway. A phone call, according to authorities, would indicate when the ring members needed the getaway driver. In nearly all the incidents, the damage to the facility was greater than the cost of the stolen copper. In total $200,000 of damage was caused.
The grounding wire, which is painted purple by PECO for identification purposes, was taken a single scrap yard in Philadelphia, court records said. The scrapping facility did not request the origins of metal or require the suspects to show identification.
Officers from Bensalem, Bristol, Falls, Middletown and Newtown townships worked with county officials to form a task force to investigate the rash of thefts. During the height of the thefts, patrol units in Bristol Township were instructed to perform increased checks at all PECO facilities in the township, officials said at the time
Eight people have been charged each with several counts of burglary, criminal trespass, theft by unlawful taking, criminal use of a communication facility, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime, recklessly endangering another.
13th March 2013
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