TORONTO – Police have arrested a Toronto man for stealing copper wires from several Hydro One transformer stations.
Garry Harold Matchim, 31, has been charged with seven counts of break-and-enter and seven counts of possession of break-in instruments after he allegedly broke into a number of Hydro One compounds on Aug. 27.
Police say the accused gained entry into the area by cutting holes in the fencing around the buildings and removed a quantity of copper wire causing extensive damage to the transformers.
Matchim is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 28.
Police are reminding the public that serious injury or death can occur if anyone enters transformer stations.
Hydro One is currently taking steps to eliminate pure copper wires from its stations and replacing them with a copper and steel composite blends.
“Signage will be posted at stations alerting would be thieves that this alternative to pure copper has no scrap metal value,” said Hydro One in a media release.
Officials say approximately $2 million worth of copper is stolen from Hydro One annually.
“By making changes to the way we operate we can deter metal theft,” said Ron Gentle, Chief Security Officer, Hydro One in a media release. “We want to ensure Ontarians can continue to safely rely on electricity to power their homes, businesses and communities every day.
Hydro One has also partnered with the Ontario Provincial Police and other law enforcement organizations to work on a strategy to deter, report, investigate and prosecute incidents of metal theft.
“We also applaud the initiatives aimed at ensuring its assets are less attractive to the criminal element in the future, thereby enhancing public and officer safety,” said Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, Provincial Commander – OPP Investigations and Organized Crime.
Since 2010, the Canadian Electricity Association says eight people have lost their lives due to copper thefts and the cost to the electricity sector is estimated at $40 million each year.