(HURON COUNTY, ON) - Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers including members from the Huron-Perth Community Street Crimes Unit (CSCU) & OPP Forensic Identification Services (FIS) continue to investigate several copper wire thefts that have taken place in Huron County. Over the last two months Huron OPP officers have investigated a total of nine copper wire thefts. The reported cases reveal thieves are primarily targeting hydro / wind turbine substations in Bluewater and Huron East. Six reported break, enter and thefts from substations in Bluewater and three reported cases in Huron East.
In some instances the thieves have made off with as little as 40 feet of copper wire (street value of around $100) whereas in other cases the thieves have managed to steal over 1,000 feet of copper wire. It should be noted the damage to the facilities and the replacement costs far outweigh the value of the actual product stolen. The costs for repairing and replacing equipment, service disruptions, customer compensation and loss of revenue can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One break, enter and theft of copper wire and clamps at a substation in Bluewater resulted in a loss of $10,000 in product, however the damage to the facilities caused an estimated $500,000 in losses due to 40 wind turbines being shut down for a period of time.
The consequences of stolen copper can go well beyond the financial impact. Power outages and the loss of vital communications can compromise public safety. Damaged or cut communication lines have the potential for loss of 911 services or communications to hospitals. Vandalism associated with the theft of copper wire may also disrupt the flow of electricity affecting street and traffic lights, highway warning signs and railway signals.
The damage from a copper wire theft can also create an unsafe environment. The removal of live copper wire used to ground electricity can pose serious safety threats to first responders, hydro employees and the culprits. Individuals are exposed to the risk of electric shock, fire, explosion, injury and death.
The vast majority of reported copper wire thefts have taken place overnight during the early morning hours. As such investigators are encouraging the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity around hydro substations and wind turbine sites. Should you see suspicious activity around these sites please record as much information as possible and contact police.
9-1-1 can be used for crimes in progress and emergency situations. Non-emergent information can be relayed to Huron OPP by calling 1-888-310-1122 or (519) 524-8314.
Alternatively, should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000