A surge in theft of Grays Harbor PUD wire and materials has utility leaders issuing a frank warning – eventually, someone is going to be hurt or killed.
“The voltage these thieves are risking coming into contact with is more than enough to do serious harm,” says PUD Safety and Environmental Director Ben Bouch. “If this continues, someone is going to get themselves killed or seriously injured.”
Theft of utility wire and equipment to sell for scrap is nothing new, but the sheer number of cases over the last two months is far higher than what would be considered normal. In Aberdeen and Hoquiam, more than two dozen poles have had the protective covers cut away and the grounding wires cut out. At the Cherry Street warehouse yard, a thief was apprehended after breaking in and making off with copper wire. On the Port Industrial Road, a thief broke into a building and damaged the utility power meter in an attempt to get to the wiring beneath the meter’s base plate. Most recently, thieves cut through the fence of a PUD substation and vandalized the site, including throwing a chain over one of the station wires, which caused a 7500 amp surge.
“All of these cases impact the service the PUD provides to our customers and costs the utility time and money to make repairs and replace stolen equipment,” said PUD Operations Director Jake Carter. “But more importantly, the energy that these individuals are getting close to will kill or injure them. It’s not a question of if, but when, that happens.”
If you notice damage to a home or business energy system, Carter and Bouch say to stay well away from the area and contact the PUD for a serviceman to come and inspect the damage. If you witness the theft or vandalism of utility material or facilities, you are asked to immediately call 9-1-1 to report the incident.