There has been a surge in copper and metal thefts during the past few months but now thieves are getting even more creative and bold, going beyond just stealing air conditioners.
They’re targeting a landmark of the desert – wind turbines.
“We’ve had a rash of thefts,” said Wintec Energy Operations and Security Manager Steve Avila. “This last weekend, another energy company that’s in an isolated area had $12,000 worth of tools and wind turbine stolen.”
This is how it works: there’s metal equipment stored on top of the wind turbines, things like generators. The metal and copper thieves go to the yard where these items are stored and then steal the equipment.
“We have security fences up around the wind park but one of the obstacles we face is that they cut the fence to gain entry into the park,” said Avila.
Some turbines are attached to towers and have long copper cables about a 100 feet in length hanging from the top to ground level. Thieves are also cutting this cable, sometimes when it’s hot, at the risk of being electrocuted.
The thefts are not even worth it, according to Avila.
“They’re likely to get a couple hundred dollars, if that.”
In the past, when the cables have been cut, they have caused minimal power outages at the wind farms. But if they mess with one of the sub stations, they have the potential to cause a major power outage that would affect homes in the Coachella Valley.
To fight back, extra security measures are being taken including the installation of hidden cameras.
“We have also put in a security system with a bolt and special tool that they would need to get into the turbine,” said Avila.
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