Power company offers reward for Forward copper thief
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 3:56 a.m.
West Penn Power officials are offering a reward for information leading to an arrest for the theft of copper wire from a power substation, causing loss of service for 750 Forward Township area customers, including an Elizabeth Forward elementary school, for four hours on Monday, township police said.
“We haven't set the amount yet,” Todd Meyers of West Penn Power said. “It depends on the damage to the substation.”
Police said someone got into the Pangburn Hill substation on Ridge Road sometime after 6 a.m.
“That's a small-distribution power station,” Meyers said.
“They cut the grounding wire from poles,” township police Chief Mark Holtzman said. “Then they breached the substation.”
A utility pole within the substation caught fire, bringing out Forward Township, Gallatin-Sunnyside and Bunola volunteer firefighters.
Meyers said arcing of electricity triggered the blaze. Township authorities said the fire was contained to the transformer property.
West Penn Power spokeswoman Terri Knupp said power was out from 7:20-11:25 a.m.
“That was us cutting the power so we could safely extinguish the pole fire,” Meyers said. “They were able to do things to get the power back on as soon as possible.”
Roughly 100 feet of copper neutral wire was taken, valued at about $250.
“It is wire that helps ground our electrical equipment,” Meyers said. “There were some different sized copper neutral wire.”
He said the labor could raise the total cost to $1,200 or more, depending on how much equipment was permanently damaged.
“There was damage to the transformer and three voltage regulators,” Holtzman said.
Affected customers included William Penn Elementary School.
“Everything was covered,” Superintendent Bart Rocco said. “We did not cancel classes. Lunches were delayed a little.”
The school district is trying to upgrade electrical service at William Penn.
“There is a generator there that is under repair,” Rocco said. “We're still in the process of getting bids.”
No injuries were reported. Live wires were cut by whomever stole the wire, but Holtzman said there was no evidence that anyone had been electrocuted.
Meyers said it could have been different.
“We can't stress how dangerous and stupid it is for someone to go into a substation,” he said. “People get injured and killed all the time. It is not worth the risk and not worth going to jail over.”
Meyers said repairs may force a scheduled or planned outage at a later date.
Anyone with information is asked to call township police at 412-384-2134.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 5 Operation Pork Chop defendants sentenced to 5 years probation
- West Mifflin mayor seeks to use county airport ‘to its fullest potential’
- East Allegheny wins Kennywood’s Education Days contest
- Duquesne City School District in tug-of-war over contract proposal
- Munhall dispatch to switch to county 911 by end of May
- South Allegheny enters agreement for website advertising
- McKeesport Area students may ‘have their cake and eat it too’
- McKeesport workshop focuses on summer programs, policy updates
- Clairton marks Month of Young Child with parade, assembly
- Duquesne fire displaces 2 families
- Repairs slated to South First Avenue in Elizabeth