Copper theft is a dangerous crime. It puts lives at risk, causes power outages and increases the costs of doing business. (Another dangerous crime is energy theft.)
We need your help
Criminals are getting away with a handful of copper and causing many thousands of dollars in damage. If you see something suspicious, please report it immediately to 911. Suspicious activity could include:
- Bicycles, wagons or four-wheelers near a substation fence.
- People in or around a substation with duffel bags or backpack.
- People in or around a substation without hard hats.
- Late night and early morning activity without the presence of a marked Westar Energy vehicle.
About copper theft
A rise in scrap metal prices is making copper attractive to thieves.
- Electric power substations, utility poles and vacant homes and businesses are all targets for thieves, who will break in and steal copper – even from energized equipment.
- Copper thieves routinely target ground wires used to keep electrical equipment safe. Electrical grounds are used to keep voltage levels constant while crews are working on equipment. Ground wires help prevent power outages from surges and lightning.
Substations are areas where only authorized Westar personnel should enter. High-voltage equipment should only be handled by trained professionals.
- Thieves often cut holes in fencing to enter a substation. This creates a potential hazard for the public, specifically small children, pets or animals who may enter substations.
- Westar field personnel who work in substations are potentially injured by ungrounded equipment.
- When ground wires are removed, usually part of the wire is left hanging. High winds often blow wires around and cause damage to equipment and power outages.
- Thieves are putting their own lives at risk.
Deterring copper thefts
Westar has implemented a number of measures to deter thefts.
- We have installed additional lighting and security in and around substations.
- We are replacing copper wire with copper weld, a material that has no scrap value.
- We're working with local law enforcement to prevent theft and catch thieves.
- Westar is asking for public assistance. If you see anything that looks suspicious around a substation, please call 911.
Identifying Westar employees
Westar employees and contractors wear protective gear such as marked hard hats and safety glasses. Authorized vehicles display the company name or logo. Westar personnel will not hesitate to show identification if asked.
Reporting copper thefts
Copper thefts that have occurred may be reported to the Westar Concerns Line at 866-266-7595.