Copper theft on the rise in Iowa

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As the price of copper increases, so does copper theft in Iowa.

Thieves are using this as a means for fast cash. They are breaking in to electric companiesâ?? sub-stations and using whatever means they can to steal the copper.

â??When they pull up the copper around the sub-station fence, they have now removed the grounding system for that fence. And so the sub-station, if there is ever a mistake or fault, it can energize that fence so a line-man or a person from the public could come up and touch the fence thinking it's going to be safe. And without that ground-grid that they have removed, then that fence could be energized. That padlock could be energized that could kill someone,â?? says Mark Aeilts, CEO of Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative (SIEC) in Bloomfield.

Although the stolen copper may only amount to a few thousand dollars, the cost of repairing a sub-station can cost upwards of $20,000. An SIEC sub-station near Drakesville was broken into last year. Luckily, no one was injured.

House File 2399 is on its way to the senate which would require any person trying to sell more than $50 worth of precious metals to have proper identification and registration. This will in turn create a paper trail that law enforcement can track.

Currently, Iowa does not require any identification to sell these materials to scrap dealers.

â??If this passes, this would most likely deter thieves from stealing copper and from putting communities into possible danger,â?? said Aeilts.

Aeilts has rallied a lot of support for this bill and believes the bill will pass.