Recent Copper Ground Wire Thefts and Vandalism

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Price City Press Release
Reports began being made to the Price City Utilities Office and Police Department about stolen electrical service ground wires and vandalism between May 16 and May 21. Since then, the city has become aware of over 20 electrical services and dozens of utility poles that have been compromised by illegal removal of grounding wires.
The utilities office has been contacting affected property owners or their tenants as city employees discover more of these thefts. All property owners and tenants are encouraged to regularly inspect their electrical services for signs of tampering. If they suspect that something is wrong, they should contact a licensed qualified electrician to verify any issues. If theft has occurred, the property owners should contact the Price City Police Department immediately, then arrange for repairs to be made as soon as possible.
The proper grounding of electrical services and utility poles is essential for the correct operation of the electrical system and safety of those who utilize or maintain it. Without proper grounding, customers could experience mild nuisances such as flickering lights, static over television and radio stations, and unsatisfactory operation of electronic equipment and appliances. In rare cases, events such as loss of life and property by electrocution and fire can occur. These issues are difficult to predict and can vary greatly depending on other environmental conditions.
If anyone has information about these thefts or notices suspicious activities, please contact the Price City Police Department at (435) 636-3190, Utah Public Safety at (435) 637-0890 or the Price City Utilities office at (435) 636-3196
The quality of scrap copper the thieves are stealing has little value in recycling or salvage. Some of the stolen equipment is made of steel with a very thin copper coating and has no scrap value. Yet, these thefts will result in costing property owners hundreds and the utilities thousands of dollars in repairs.
Removing a ground wire is similar to removing a lug nut from the wheel of a vehicle. The chances of an incident occurring increases with each one removed. Not only are the thieves putting property occupants in bad situations, they are taking an extremely dangerous risk cutting these wires. High voltages and currents could be present on the wire if a component of the electrical system isn’t functioning properly. They could also be attempting to cut into a live wire that they mistakenly think is not energized. The results of cutting into an energized wire can often be tragic and gruesome. Survivors may be left disabled and forced to live with tremendous pain for the remainder of their lives.
Property owners can aid utility workers in preventing and finding vandalism much more quickly by adhering to Price City ordinance 98-002, which states “Property Owners and/or the Occupants Thereof Shall Provide Unrestricted Access to Utility Meters by Price City Personnel.” The ordinance continues to explain that the areas around meters must be kept free of obstacles, debris and hazards. A copy of the ordinance can be obtained at the Price City Utility Office. Other municipalities and utilities may have similar ordinances or clauses written into their customer service contracts.
Even though Price City’s current meter reading system allows us to read many of our customers meters without entering their properties, it is still required and necessary for us to physically check commercial meters each month and residential meters at regular intervals.
Those who don’t live within Price City should also check their utility service points regularly. These thefts are likely taking place throughout Carbon and Emery counties and should be reported to local police and sheriff departments and the utility when found.
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