Overhead lines that return unused power to Avista have been targeted by metal thieves since late August, according to a company employee.
Since Aug. 22, a suspect has stolen more than 1.5 miles of No. 6 copper for a loss exceeding $18,000. The company has been replacing the stolen copper lines with aluminum wire, which is less expensive.
The most recent theft occurred on Sept. 12 on North Hazard Road. Crews had just replaced the line at midnight and it was discovered missing again at 6 a.m.
The employee said the return cable is the lower of the two lines on the power poles and that the suspect pulls the line down and then cuts it closest to the pole.
The thefts are risky business, company officials warn. Although the line is usually not powered, it can be at any time and the thief would have no way of knowing if it is charged or not.
Anyone with information regarding these thefts is encouraged to call Crime Check at 456-2233.