We've all read in the newspapers or seen reports on TV news about thieves stealing copper pipe and wiring from empty homes or commercial buildings or stripping electrical and telephone cable from between telephone poles. As copper prices rose the incidents of theft rose with them as thieves sought to cash in by selling off 'salvaged' copper to scrap dealers.
Such thefts are certainly a pain for home and building owners as well as utilities. It has also led to the deaths of more than a few thieves when they try to cut live electrical cables carrying 3,800 volts or more.
But one of the less recognized problems with these thefts is the danger to our electrical and communications infrastructure. Cutting the wrong line can cripple part of the electrical grid. Removing a section of cable my disrupt communications over a wide area. If enough of these kinds of thefts occur, entire cities could find themselves without power or phone service. Include Internet service along with those that might be disrupted.