The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 3, 2013

Thieves take record amount of copper in Utah

Three miles of copper wire stolen

(Continued)

SALT LAKE CITY —

Nationwide, police report a strong link between rates of crystal methamphetamine use and theft of the wire, according to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Energy. Replacing the wire typically costs three times the value that thieves get for it, that same study shows.

Brett Brenner, president of the nonprofit, safety-focused Electrical Safety Foundation, said thieves are putting themselves and others in danger by stealing wire.

"They're messing with some pretty sophisticated electronics most of the time," Brenner said.

The theft, he said, results in problems that can hurt and kill work crews that go out to fix the wire. And it throws off electricity grids, he said, sometimes robbing homes and hospitals of power for days.

In Montana and neighboring Idaho, police have taken measures against copper theft such as embedding GPS devices in the wire and using them to track down thieves.

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