Līhu‘e, Kaua‘i, HI – 9/25/12 – Copper thieves targeted equipment owned by Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) and pulled down two power lines near Puhi on Monday afternoon. It was the fourth time since July that thieves stole or tried to steal copper lines from KIUC.

At about 4:30 p.m., a blown fuse in Huleia Valley alerted KIUC to a fault on the system. A KIUC troubleshooter was dispatched and found that about 600 feet of uninsulated copper power line had been pulled down and stolen. Power to several houses on Haiku Road was affected but repairs were made and power was quickly restored.

The scrap value of the copper is about $150.

This was the fourth incident involving KIUC facilities since July. On July 3, someone used a chain to pull down power lines off Maalo Road near Wailua Falls, stealing about $1,500 worth of copper. In mid-July, in two separate incidents, copper wiring was stolen from poles cut down in Kalaheo on Ihu Road and on Halewili Road.

In recent months, copper thieves have not only targeted KIUC but poles and equipment owned by the Kekaha Agricultural Association and Kauai Coffee.

“Messing around with live power lines to steal copper is extremely dangerous – it’s just not worth the risk,” said Carey Koide, KIUC’s manager of transmission and distribution.

In September 2011, a man was critically burned on Oahu when he allegedly tried to steal copper wiring from a Sand Island warehouse. A few months earlier, police in Honolulu arrested a man who suffered third-degree burns and caused an explosion in a transformer near Waikiki after he allegedly tried to strip out the copper wiring.

Replacing the lines and repairing damaged equipment costs KIUC and its members money. If you see suspicious activity, call 911. No one but workers in clearly marked utility vehicles should be working around utility poles.

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