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Copper thieves target power company

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Updated: 7/08/2013 10:35 pm Published: 7/08/2013 3:15 pm

Your power could be in jeopardy because of copper thieves.

FOX23 News has learned thieves have stolen miles and miles of wiring and they’re risking their lives and your sense of security.

Okmulgee County deputies said they arrested Michael Burns and Ryan Talley with a stack of stolen copper.

Deputies believed East Central Electric was one of the victims in the copper bust.

"That's what they are coming after right there, that's the copper wire," said East Central Electric General Manager Tim Smith.

He showed FOX23 News the meter where thieves target the copper.

"They hook chains to it and rip that off the pole," said Smith.
Deputies said that’s what landed the suspects in the Okmulgee County jail.

"For us to put back up is about a $1,500 cost," said Smith. "Our concern is public safety."

Copper thieves are targeting power companies across the state. In Okmulgee deputies are working with nearby agencies to arrest the crooks.

"It could be a couple hours to restore their power," said Smith.

Thieves are also hitting substations.

"Every power pole has this copper wire running down the side of it," said Smith.

We found the price of scrap copper is about $3 a pound, which is down from previous months but still a concern.

"The meter loop just costs $300," said Smith.

The power company is encouraging people to be on the lookout for anyone not in uniform next to power lines.

"That way hopefully we can put a stop this to copper theft," said Smith.

Copper theft is a felony and if offenders are caught removing the insulation from the wires they can get time in prison.

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