SA Power Networks sets reward to catch copper thieves

Break-ins: SA Power Networks has doubled its standard reward to $20,000 to help catch copper thieves following 14 substation break-ins over the past month.
Break-ins: SA Power Networks has doubled its standard reward to $20,000 to help catch copper thieves following 14 substation break-ins over the past month.

SA Power Networks has doubled its standard reward to $20,000 to help catch copper thieves following 14 substation break-ins over the past month, with Kingston being one of the substations affected this week.

The reward has been offered for information leading to a conviction of those responsible for copper theft from SA Power Networks' electricity infrastructure.

Thieves have hit fourteen substations in regional and metropolitan locations, mainly targeting copper earthing.

Under the Electricity Act, thieves face up to two year's jail or a $10,000 fine for breaking into a substation and interfering with electricity infrastructure.

SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts, said the network is working closely with SAPOL, encouraging anyone with information on copper theft to contact police by calling CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

"Someone must know something, whether it is information about who is breaking into the substations or even who is buying the stolen copper," Mr Roberts said.

"These people are risking their lives and seriously compromising the electricity network and the safety of our employees and the community."

Mr Roberts stated that these break-ins have caused a number of power outages, affecting about 8,000 customers, with the network needing to turn off supply to maintain community safety.

Substations affected included Kingston South East on Tuesday, impacting 2,000 customers, Swan Reach, Woodside, Meningie, Jervois and Caloote.

"Just stepping into a substation site is dangerous, as you do not have to touch equipment to be electrocuted," he continued. "They not only are risking their lives, but their actions endanger the public and could lead to serious disruption of electricity supply. Repairs are also costly."

Mr Roberts stressed how important it is that local residents who live around substations keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

"Anyone working in substations would have a clearly-marked SA Power Networks vehicle and park at or adjacent the gates of substations," he finished.

SA Power Networks has more than 400 substations and uses a range of strategies to try to deter copper theft including high-security fencing and electrified fencing at some sites; video surveillance; and security patrols.