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Copper stolen in rash of thefts at nine PSNH substations

MANCHESTER — Copper thieves stripped sections of the wiring from nine area Public Service Company of New Hampshire substations since July 16, likely cashing the scrap metal in for quick cash while damaging equipment and requiring costly repairs.

“The theft of copper from our properties and other electric utilities around the country has gone on for several years. But we have had a series of thefts just recently, which is of great concern from a safety perspective, an electrical reliability standpoint and a cost standpoint,” PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said Thursday.Utility crews discovered copper ground wires cut from transformers at four Manchester substations Thursday. They are among at least 10 burglaries at PSNH properties that occurred in the last 10 days, Murray said.The number of thefts are rising along with the price of copper, he said.

It’s a dangerous pursuit, given thieves easily could get electrocuted in the process, Murray and Manchester Police Lt. Maureen Tessier said. “It’s just not worth it for anyone for 50 bucks worth of scrap metal to risk their lives and risk damage to other’s property,” Murray said.

Police said Thursday they have made no arrests and have no suspects.

PSNH appealed to the public to report any suspicious activity at or around its substations to local police or directly to PSNH.

“We are concerned about all of these issues, and we are asking the public to help put a stop to this criminal behavior,” Murray said.

Utility crews discovered more than $15,000 worth of equipment damage at the 833 Dunbarton Rd. substation Thursday morning, Murray said. Thieves cut a hole through the chain-link fence and stole about 30 feet of copper wiring, worth about $50 at a scrap metal yard, he said.

In doing so, they ruined a regulator worth about $15,000 that required crews to spend most of the day to repair, Murry said.

No one lost power as a result, he said.

Murray said this is one of at least 10 break-ins at nine Manchester area substations in the last 10 days.

PSNH is in the process of replacing its copper wiring with copper-clad steel wiring, which would have far less monetary value, Murray added.

Similar thefts reported Thursday occurred at PSNH substations at 1081 Hanover St., 58 Ronald St. and 149 Eddy Rd., Tessier said.

Police located some copper wiring similar to what was removed from the PSNH substations at Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., a scrap metal yard at 399 Willow St., Tessier said. Police are trying to determine if the wiring is the same taken from PSNH, she said.

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