Clallam PUD asks for help in solving thefts of copper

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

Clallam County Public Utility District staff members are asking for the public's help in finding the culprits behind copper thefts from utility facilities.

Over the past week, thieves have taken copper grounding lines at the PUD's Deer Park and Agnew substations, as well as from about a milelong stretch of power poles along Deer Park Road, PUD spokesman Michael Howe said Tuesday.

“We have no idea who did it,” Howe said, adding that there have been no thefts from the PUD's 24 other substations.

Repairs have cost the PUD about $20,000, Howe estimated.

The Clallam County Sheriff's Office is investigating the thefts.

Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron said Tuesday he had not heard of investigators uncovering any leads in the thefts.

The copper was likely stolen for its value as salvage, Cameron added.

“Copper commands a pretty good price,” he said.

The grounding lines are safety measures to protect PUD crews working on the substations or poles and others in the immediate vicinity from electrical shorts, Howe explained.

The copper grounds running the height of power poles on Deer Park Road were cut at what must have been as far up as the thief or thieves could reach, Howe said.

Howe said neither of the locks on the fences surrounding the Deer Park and Agnew substations were damaged, meaning those responsible must have climbed the barbed-wire fences, and taken their lives into their own hands in the process.

“The substations, quite frankly, are some of the most dangerous places to do be,” Howe said.

“There's absolutely the chance of death for the perpetrator, or causing unnecessary risk for our linemen.”

To Howe's knowledge, the PUD has not experienced similar copper thefts in the past.

“This is a relatively new occurrence for us,” Howe said.

Howe said the PUD is asking any members of the public who may have seen or see suspicious individuals around substations or power poles to call the sheriff's office at 360-417-2459 or the PUD at 360-452-9771.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 02. 2013 7:06PM
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