Copper theft spiked last year as the price of copper hit record highs. In response, the Electrical Safety Foundation, in cooperation with Edison Electric, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the American Public Power Association developed a survey to measure perceptions about copper theft and steps being taken by utilities and other infrastructure stakeholders to combat the problem.

“Plenty of anecdotal evidence that details the nature of this problem in various regions does exist,” said Electrical Safety Foundation President Brett Brenner when the “Copper Theft Baseline Survey of Utilities” report was released. “However, very little information has been made available to date that accurately reveals the effects of utility copper theft on a national scale,” “The success of this survey is a testament to the cooperative efforts that have been made by Electrical Safety Foundation and the electric utilities to create a forum for evaluating and responding to copper wire theft and other public safety issues.”

A portion of the survey report stated that:

  • 81.4 percent of utility companies were concerned about copper theft;

  • 95.1 percent had experienced copper theft in the past year;

  • 86.6 percent had a process in place to track incidences of copper theft;

  • Over the previous 12-month period, an estimated 50,193 incidences of copper theft occurred;

  • 7,919 of those incidences involved energized equipment;

  • The value of copper material stolen in the 12-month period was an estimated $20,167,738; (including the value of copper material, the impact of the copper thefts from utilities nationwide cost $60,397,818);

  • The number of outages due to copper theft was an estimated 456,210 minutes; 52 injuries nationwide; and 35 deaths.

The complete results of Electrical Safety Foundation's 2008 Cooper Theft Baseline Survey of Utilities can be viewed at www.electrical-safety.org.

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