SAVANNAH, GA (August 29, 2011): Copper thieves trying to take advantage of increased metal prices have found new prey but they are putting themselves in danger.


Thieves are targeting telephone and power company towers that use copper plates, wires and bars to ground their equipment. Eight such thefts were reported to Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police between Aug. 17 and Aug. 26.


The thefts can be dangerous. A 41-year-old man trying to take copper from a Duke Energy substation in Cowpens, SC, was electrocuted July 18. Firefighters responded to an explosion at the substation to find the thief had been killed. The explosion left thousands without electrical power overnight.


The thefts not only put the thief in danger, they put utility and cell phone companies and their customers in jeopardy of losing service. The equipment that is removed dissipates lightning strikes. If they are not in place when such strikes occur, the tower can be destroyed and service to those customers will be lost.


Police are asking the public to be aware of such thefts and report suspicious activity around towers. Such activity should be reported through the 911 emergency communication system. Anyone with information on such thefts is asked to call Crimestoppers at (912) 234-2020 or text CRIMES (274637). Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.


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