The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

May 12, 2013

Wasted resources

The news is familiar.

A man was electrocuted Wednesday and a second arrested in connection with an attempted copper theft in our area.

Familiar, but with a twist this time. According to investigating officers, the pair used a rifle to shoot down a power line owned by Appalachian Power Co. in an alleged attempt to steal copper wire from the line. One of the men then touched the power line and was electrocuted.

Unbelievably brazen and foolish.

And sadly, someone is dead.

The resulting power outage impacted 50 APCO customers in the Thurmond area and lasted about three hours, according to spokesman Phil Moye.

When copper is stolen, it’s more than a nuisance for police and the affected residences and businesses.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it costs taxpayers over $1 billion a year.

We suggest that if you see suspicious activity around vacant buildings or property, communication towers, construction sites, mines or an electric substation, contact the police.

Copper theft is still a deadly risk that too many are willing to take. Their motivation, more often than not, is a desperation to feed a drug habit.

And it’s one that, despite the many deaths and arrests that have resulted from it, continues to be problematic.

Whether it’s driven by just plain stupidity or desperation, our hope is that educating the public on copper theft will lead to a decrease in the costly issue.

Costly, in wasted resources, economic losses — and, most importantly, lives.

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