Copper Thefts Put Vandals and Utility Workers in Danger

A couple hundred Clay County residents were without power briefly Wednesday after vandals entered a Greenway electric substation.

Their intent was to steal copper wire, but high voltage cut their efforts short.

Anywhere from 35-thousand to 500-thousand volts runs through a typical substation.

It's a pretty risky job to break in and start cutting wires, but those vandals took their chances, and created a fluctuation of voltage that was quickly noticed.

"We came in the substation looking around and what we found was two grounds cut off the transformers," said Bob Robertson of Entergy.

This was no job of utility workers, but that of vandals looking to get away with some copper wire.

"When the vandals cut the grounds off, it brings the transformer cases that are normally grounded to a high voltage potential," said Robertson.

At this particular substation in greenway nearly 35-thousand volts were charged into three large transformers.

"If anyone would have touched the cases on the transformers trying to analyze the problem, they could have been very seriously injured or we could have had a fatality," said Robertson.

That fatality that would have been caused by someone breaking the law.

After assessing the area, Entergy employees found a set of tire tracks just outside the substation, which leads them to believe the culprit came in and went over the fence before doing their damage.

"This fence is here for a reason. It is to keep the people out. It's not worth them coming in and risking their life and risking the life of our employees trying to come in and find the problem," said Robertson.

Entergy employees encourage everyone to keep a watch out.

"If anybody sees anybody around these substations, they need to call their local law enforcement," said Wes Stallcup of Entergy.

That one call could stop a vandal as well as save a life.

"They are really not getting enough to create the danger that they are for themselves and the people coming in trying to figure out what is going on," said Robertson.

If you have any information about the copper vandals you are asked to call the Clay County Sheriff's Department or Entergy.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at