MONEY IN THE BAG – If you attended our Annual Meeting in April and received your registration gift, you more than likely found the $1,000 Willie Wirehand money. Most of you asked, what is it for? It is simple – to bring awareness of the costly dollars spent due to copper crime and to remind everyone that a reward may be available for your help. The majority of tips and information that led to arrests, came from people just like you, our members.
"Copper theft is a nationwide problem that affects everyone and continues to grow – it is illegal, costly, and endangers lives,” MEC’s Vice President of Member Relations and Strategic Services John Powers emphasized. "Marlboro Electric’s top priority is safety and looking out for the overall interest of our co-op employees, members and community."
“Marlboro Electric has policies and procedures to deter and detect any theft and fraud,” Powers commented. “We continue to work closely with the Marlboro and Dillon County Sheriff’s office concerning copper theft.”
Marlboro Electric wants everyone to be aware of their surroundings and know that copper theft is costing its members money. We also want to remind you that a reward may be available to anyone reporting information relating to theft, distribution and/or selling of any copper from Marlboro Electric that leads to the arrest and conviction.
The copper crime that endangers lives and results in thousands of dollars in damages that is ultimately paid by you—continues to plague electric utilities all over America.
Copper wire is appealing to thieves who look to sell it for scrap. Burglars often climb power poles, scale fences, and break into buildings to steal the precious metal—almost always endangering themselves and others in the process. Between 2001 and 2008, the price of copper skyrocketed 500 percent. After a brief decline in 2009, it has hovered at a strong $3.40 per pound for the past several years.
To a would-be thief, stealing copper may seem like a quick way to make a buck. But it’s illegal, it’s costly, and it’s not worth a life. Working with any metal and electricity is a dangerous combination, even for trained employees using proper equipment.
Stolen wire is commonly brought to recycling centers and traded for cash. Many state laws require recycling centers to keep records of transactions. Legislation introduced on the federal level aims to improve tracking and impose stiffer penalties; most states, including South Carolina, have toughened metal theft laws over the past few years as well.
Thieves may not understand that they are risking their lives, along with others, by taking copper from utility poles or substations, where high-transmission voltage is stepped down to a lower current for distribution lines. Marlboro Electric urges you to follow these guidelines to guard against electrical dangers and prevent copper theft.
Never enter or touch equipment inside a substation; stay away from power lines and anything touching a power line.
If you notice anything unusual with electric facilities, such as an open substation gate, open equipment, or hanging wire, contact Marlboro Electric immediately.
If you see anyone around electric substations or electric facilities other than Marlboro Electric personnel or authorized contractors, call the police.
Please help us prevent these thefts. Help spread the word about the deadly consequences that can result from trying to steal copper wire.
Anyone with information relating to theft, distribution and/or selling of any copper from Marlboro Electric Cooperative, or any other victim, is encouraged to report by calling the Sheriff’s Office or 1-888-CRIME-SC. You do not have to give your name to report copper theft and you could become eligible for a reward.