Would-be copper wire thief causes power outage, possibly sustains burns

Someone attempted to steal copper wire that was connected to a live power station on Sunday, causing a power outage in Anne Arundel County and likely causing serious injury to the thief, police said.

Police have asked local hospitals to keep an eye out for a patient suffering from extensive burns caused by heat or electricity. The culprit could have been injured when he or she cut the wire at the substation in Linthicum, police said in a press release.

BGE spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said that the outage, which started at about 5:20 a.m., affected about 10,000 customers. Most customers’ power was restored within minutes, but about 2,000 customers were without power for about five hours.

Lighty said that the thief used some sort of tool with a long reach to cut a wire that was at least 15 feet off the ground. That wire was not live, but it hit two live wires as it tumbled to the ground, causing the power outage.

The thief did not pick up that fallen wire, and Lighty says BGE and police are still investigating to find out whether any wire was taken off the premises.

Regardless of which wires the intruder touched, Lighty said, the risk of burns for someone who simply enters a substation without wearing fire-resistant clothing is very high.

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Julie Zauzmer is a local news reporter.
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