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California Briefing | PICO RIVERA

Stolen wire forces power outages

June 17, 2008|Sam Quinones

Thieves stole 300 feet of copper grounding wire from a Southern California Edison substation Monday forcing workers to shut down the plant and cut power to more than 19,000 customers.

The cutoff lasted nearly four hours, darkening homes and businesses and causing confusion at traffic intersections where stoplights were deactivated.

Power workers discovered the missing wires about 1:30 p.m., according to company spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady. Although the substation continued to operate, the absence of the ground wires posed a hazard and workers shut the station down while the wires were replaced and other repairs were made.

Electricity was restored by 5 p.m., and the wire replacement and repairs cost roughly $30,000, McGrady said.

Theft of metals has increased at the utility in recent months, as metal prices have risen, McGrady said.

To report anyone selling, buying or possessing stolen utility wire, call 800-78-CRIME. For more information, go to SCE.com/coppertheft.

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-- Sam Quinones

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