EPCOR says it has noticed a troubling pattern over the past two months — thieves are taking copper from transmission boxes and leaving them wide open.
Tim le Riche, a spokesperson for the utility company, said Wednesday there have been a series of unusual and concerning copper thefts.
“Normally, [thieves] will take a large amount of copper wire that’s keeping a pole up, sometimes they’ll get into equipment and cut wire out,” le Riche said.
“But beginning in October, and through November, there was a series of thefts that showed a different pattern and caused some public danger.”
He said in that period, there have been seven incidents where transformer boxes have been opened and miniscule amounts of copper have been stolen.
It’s a pattern that’s putting the public at risk as a live transformer box can pack a serious jolt.
“It doesn’t fit the normal pattern. Why anyone would risk injury – or even death — for a pittance of $20 [of copper] is a mystery to us,” le Riche said.
“We are concerned curious children, perhaps even pets, might be impacted. It’s a danger to them.”
The open boxes have all been discovered on the north side of the city, mostly in the northeast.
“Fortunately, all seven of these thefts have happened in new construction areas,” le Riche said. “When EPCOR crews go back to do the final connections, they are discovering these things.”
He said the boxes have not yet been connected with the distribution wires to homes and businesses, but they are live-connected to the transmission system.
The company hopes there aren’t more instances around the city, but isn’t ruling it out.
“EPCOR, like any other utility, has copper theft. Seven [thefts] in two months is a lot for us,” le Riche said. “There could be more out there, some we haven’t found yet.”
No injuries have been reported. EPCOR has reported the incidents to the Edmonton Police Service.
If you see an open transformer box, EPCOR asks you to stay away and contact the company at 780-412 4500.