SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Copper thieves in Springfield are costing electric customers. Some new measures, however, could end up saving money and lives.
The thieves are after copper grounding wires. The metal is a hot commodity because it can be sold for a lot of money at scrap metal yards. Every dollar in a criminal's pocket is one less dollar in the wallets of utility customers.
If you get close to a power substation, you can hear the buzzing that’s made by 161,000 volts of electricity.
“This is a very dangerous zone,” said Joel Alexander, a spokesman for City Utilities of Springfield.
With the buzzing sound and the warning signs, most people would get the message to keep out. That’s not the case for some money hungry thieves.
“A lot of people just get desperate and think it’s an easy way to get some money,” said Alexander.
The criminals break in and steal copper grounding wire, doing their dirty work just inches from death.