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Copper Theft

The recent increase in copper prices has spurred thieves to steal copper from utility substations and rip wires off of poles. This illegal act can end in death, injury, fires and power outages.

Substations are transition points that contain high voltage electricity and play a crucial role in a utility's electrical system. They are enclosed by a fence and locked gate with warning signs notifying the public of their dangers. Only an authorized person should enter a substation and touch the electrical equipment..

An unauthorized person should never enter the fenced area of a Cleco work center. These work areas contain equipment and supplies that are necessary for Cleco to reliably deliver electricity to its customers. An individual who steals materials from these centers or from a Cleco service truck is stealing from the company's customers as they ultimately pay for this equipment and supplies.

Power lines are energized wires that move electricity and should never be touched. Even if a line is lying on the ground, assume it is energized and dangerous.
The rash of copper thefts in the state has prompted the Louisiana Legislature to pass two laws during the 2007 Legislative Session that directly impact the stealing of copper from utilities. House Bill 184 makes the theft of utility property a crime punishable of a fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment for not less than two years or more than 10 years, or both.

House Bill 557 adds more responsibility to the vendors who buy metals. Scrap metal and junk dealers are required to document and retain information from the seller that was not covered under an existing law. In addition, this new law includes stiffer penalties for those dealers who do not comply, which include fines of not less than $1,000 and imprisonment up to one year, or both.

Report suspicious activity at Cleco facilities, substations or near power lines to local law enforcement and Cleco by calling 1(800)622-6537.