A rise in copper cable thefts in Victoria is putting those affected at risk, Crime Stoppers have warned.
- Copper theft is on the rise in Victoria, with Ballarat among hotspots for criminals
- Thieves often snatch copper wiring from pits and illegally resell it online and to scrap yards
- Exposed wires can cause serious injury or death
Copper wiring has a wide range of uses, including powering homes, streetlights, and traffic lights.
It reached a record market price of $14/kg in March.
The combination of its growing value and ubiquity has sparked an increase in cable theft across the state.
“Thieves will go into a pit dug in the ground, or anywhere where the copper is part of the infrastructure, and rip out hundreds of meters of it,” said Stella Smith, chief executive of Crime Stoppers Victoria.
“They will then cash it in for $5-8 a kilo at unscrupulous scrap yards or online.”
Although the illegal trade in copper cables can be a quick way for offenders to make money, the consequences can range from inconvenience to death.
Ms Smith said the exposed wires left by the copper thieves put the thieves themselves and innocent people at risk of electrocution.
“It also has a significant cost to the community when infrastructure is damaged.”
Ballarat among copper cable theft hotspots
Powercor Australia Group Director Michael Hayes said the company had recently suffered “numerous incidents of copper theft occurring in Ballan, Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat”.
The company is Victoria’s largest electricity distributor, serving more than one million homes.
He said Powercor had been forced to step up security measures at its street lighting sites in the area, including Blind Creek Road and Ballarat Link Road.
“We are carrying out many strategic activities…but we really need the help of members of the public because, as with many crimes in the community, we need as much information as possible about those responsible,” a- he declared.
The community is invited to report the theft of copper
Crime Stoppers Victoria has partnered with Powercor to launch a new community awareness campaign aimed at reducing copper cable theft.
People are urged to recognize signs of copper theft, including exposed wires, misplaced pit covers, and people selling copper on buy-and-sell websites without being a registered used dealer.
Ms Smith said it was also important to know which authority to contact, depending on the situation.
Anyone witnessing copper theft should contact the police on triple-0, while suspected copper cable theft or past incidents should be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or on its website.
In the event of exposed wiring, contact a power distributor.