Thefts At Power Stations Could Be Deadly

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PPL officials say vandalism to a power substation in Luzerne County knocked out power to about 10,000 homes and businesses over the weekend. They're afraid it could happen again anywhere in our area.

Officials say there's been a spike in cases of people stealing from their substations.

PPL officials say those thefts could lead to outages like folks in the Hazleton area experienced on Sunday night or it could kill someone. PPL says this year they've seen more and more copper thefts from their substations, which is extremely dangerous. So, they're stepping up security.

PPL officials said someone was throwing branches on power lines that led to an electricity substation near Hazleton. The consequence was about 10,000 homes and businesses in lower Luzerne county without power Sunday.

So before the lights flickered back on folks flocked Jimmy's Quick Lunch in McAdoo. They had power.

"Pretty much everyone around us was out of power. Like he said, we were the oasis in the darkness of power," said Jennifer Ludwig.

PPL says what happened there could happen again if a problem they're having continues.

A substation in Jessup is one of a number of stations that had its copper wiring stolen. PPL officials say it's been happening more and more this year and since stations like the one in Jessup provide power to thousands, it could affect all those customers or kill the thief.

"There's a lot of dangerous equipment in there. People have to know what they're doing. We're very fearful that if this keeps up, someone's going to make a fatal mistake at one of our substations an we're trying to avoid that," said Rich Beasley, PPL spokesperson.

PPL officials say their security measures haven't been working. The thieves are breaking the locks or cutting the fences to get into the substations. So, PPL is stepping up security and maybe adding surveillance.

Beasley says they've also contacted scrap yards to see if they can spot the stolen wires, but they say that's difficult to do. The thieves could potentially knock out power to thousands of people or someone could be hurt.

"There's no fortune behind those fences. What's behind those fences is a good opportunity to get killed," Beasley said.

PPL officials say though they've seen several copper thefts at their substations since the beginning of this year. So far none of them have led to power outages and as far as they know no one was seriously hurt. But, they hope it stops before that happens.