Copper theft is on the rise (updated)

open transformer (002)

Damaged transformers can put our family and neighbours at risk. If you see one, please stay back and call 911.

Update February 9, 2016

Calgary Police have arrested two people and charged them with breaking and entering  in relation to an incident at a transformer. We’ll continue to support the Calgary Police’s efforts on this and other investigations.

We are committed to the safety of our communities and crews, and helping to ensure a reliable source of electricity.

(Original post December 2015) Recently, we’ve seen a rash of copper thefts from our electrical transformers (those green boxes found in many neighbourhoods) and other electricity infrastructure. This unfortunate trend is caused by people who are willing to risk injury, or possibly death for a few quick, albeit illegal dollars.

This problem isn’t limited to Calgary, and similar thefts are occurring across Alberta and Canada.

The cost is more than dollars

The greatest concern for ENMAX is the potential electrical hazard related to these crimes. Back in 2013, an individual was killed when he attempted to steal copper wire from an ENMAX substation.

Beyond the obvious danger to the thieves involved, when high-voltage electrical infrastructure such as transformer boxes are damaged to get at the copper, transformer doors may be open, exposing dangerous electrical equipment that can put our family, friends and neighbours, not to mention utility workers and first responders unnecessarily at risk.

What you can do about copper theft

The first and most important thing you need to remember is that you always need to think of your own safety first.

If you see suspicious activity around a transformer and you don’t see an ENMAX vehicle or worker nearby: Do not move closer, call the police immediately at 911.

If you think a transformer has been damaged as part of a theft or any reason:

  • Do not move closer to the box or try to close doors, move any wires or clean up any debris.
  • Stay a safe distance away and if possible warn others to stay away.
  • Call 911 immediately. If you don’t have a mobile phone, ask another person to either make the call or remain to warn others while you make the call.

The Canadian Electricity Association and utilities across the country including ENMAX have taken steps such as increasing security or replacing copper with other materials that are less valuable in an effort to reduce this type of crime.

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