Xcel Energy clamping down on copper theft

Xcel Energy clamping down on copper theft

Provided by Xcel Energy

AMARILLO, Texas – Copper theft is a costly and potentially dangerous problem for Xcel Energy in its Texas-New Mexico service area, but enhanced security measures and cooperation from area law enforcement are beginning to show results.

Large-scale thefts have decreased by 24 percent in the first six months of 2014 when compared to the same period last year, according to Chris Shelton, senior Protection Services consultant for Xcel Energy in Amarillo. So far this year, 53 percent of large-scale thefts have resulted in arrest, and in 62 percent of these cases, the company has been able to recover stolen property.

"We can't be specific about how we have been able to achieve this success because it's an ongoing effort," Shelton said. "But we want copper thieves to know that if they decide to steal from our facilities, we have new technology to detect crimes in progress, and respond immediately."

Shelton said copper theft affects the reliability of electric service and presents a major hazard for Xcel Energy employees and the general public.

"It's also costly, and these costs eventually can increase the cost of electricity."

Area law enforcement agencies have cooperated with Xcel Energy for several years to stop this criminal activity. The Texas Department of Public Safety points out that many of the thefts are likely helping to fund wider criminal activity in the region, and stopping copper theft can have a real impact on frustrating organized crime.

"The theft alone is a danger to the public, but the funds derived from selling stolen copper help keep organized crime in business, which presents a greater threat to everyone living here," said Texas Department of Public Safety Senior Trooper Chris Ray. "Joining our efforts with private industry is making a difference, and we're not going to let up."