Copper stolen at 3 KU sites; utility warns of danger
Copper has been stolen in recent days from three Kentucky Utilities electrical substations in Central Kentucky — a dangerous crime that has proved fatal in the past, KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said.
No power outages resulted from the copper thefts, and it appears that no one was injured, Feltham said. It is not clear when the thefts occurred, but KU employees discovered that copper was missing from a substation in Lexington’s Joyland neighborhood Monday night and from a substation on Iron Works Pike Wednesday morning.
Another copper theft was discovered recently in Paris.
No arrests have been made. But, Feltham said, if the same vandals stole copper from each of the three substations, they’ve “been pretty lucky three times in a row,” because someone usually gets hurts while committing this type of crime.
“It’s extremely dangerous inside those chain-link fences,” Feltham said.
In May 2006, David Avant, 20, of Middlesboro was found dead among live wires near a utility pole that had been cut down outside a vacant building along U.S. 25E, south of Pineville. He was electrocuted; two others were badly burned.
In August 2007, a KU employee found the body of a man near a utility pole in Neff in Harlan County, and it appeared he had been trying to steal copper wire when he was electrocuted.
In October 2007, tools left at a substation off Waveland Museum Lane in Lexington indicated that someone had broken in and tried to disassemble parts to get copper wire, but nothing was taken. Lexington police suggested that something might have blown up in the person’s face.
“I’m hoping they learned to never do that again,” Feltham said of the incident near Waveland Museum. “That’s a hard lesson learned.”
Copper thefts tend to increase during warmer months, but KU has taken several steps to catch the thieves who often sell the copper at junkyards, Feltham said. KU has asked police to patrol substations more, especially overnight. And neighbors have been asked to report suspicious behavior near the electrical stations.
Customers usually lose power when a substation is tampered with, Feltham said. But the copper stolen at these substations was not taken directly from machinery that delivers electricity.
Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at (859) 231-1386 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 1386.