Thieves who steal copper from utilities and buildings might soon face serious prison time in Missouri.
Most copper wire theft is a misdemeanor in Missouri, provoking jail time and a fine now. But state lawmakers want to make it a felony regardless of the value of the wire stolen…
Utility company officials like Aquila’s Steve Murray say replacing stolen wire and repairing damaged equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the cost to the utility is not the main reason Aquila backs the bill.
Murray cites the story of a man who broke into a substation in St. Joseph to steal wire and touched the wrong wire. He says the man suffered severe burns, a broken back that left him paralyzed and on life support for the rest of the winter.
He and others say utility pole ground wires are easy targets…and the theft of them can lead to other tragedies.
Ameren’s Norma Brown as similar horror stories–including one man whose attempt to steal buried cable resulted in a shock so severe it melted his jacket onto his skin.
Several proposals are expected to be debated soon.