(U//FOUO) Michigan Fusion Center Energy Substations Copper Thefts Bulletin

Michigan Intelligence Operations Center for Homeland Security

  • 2 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • March 27, 2012


Over the last week, approximately 10 Energy Sector substations in the Marshall and Battle Creek area have been the victims of copper theft. Because the current street value for scrap copper is over $4.00 per pound, electric substations have become lucrative targets. The targeting of substations for copper has been an issue for over a year. The recent thefts from substations in the greater Flint area caused significant power outages to the area and safety issues for first responders. The suspects are stealing the grounding system conductors and other wires stored at the substation at night. This is accomplished by digging up sections of the grounding system conductors and cutting it off from the power units. The process is time-consuming and requires the suspects to go inside the substation perimeter fence. A few sites have experienced repeated offenses of copper theft.

Energy Sector companies have advised there SIGNIFICANT safety risk when responding to a substation that has been the victim of copper theft. If a section of the substation grounding system is severed or removed, the grounding system and equipment connected to the grounding system can still hold dangerous levels of electric charge. This may include the perimeter fencing.

Responders should check the perimeter of the substations for signs of intrusion, including cut fencing or cut gate locks. Officers should look for power equipment sparking or the smell of burnt material before proceeding. Do not touch the fence or go inside as the area is not safe and a company representative should be on site before entrance is made. If a suspect is found within the perimeter and/or within the fenced area, responding officers should make the suspect walk toward the officers, away from the electric equipment and advise the suspect not to touch the perimeter fence.

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