Another theft of copper wire from a WE Energies substation has, again, probably left a mark on the perpetrator.
This new incident took place at the substation at 7018 Michna Road – sometime between May 28 and June 4 – and is similar to what happened at the St. Rita’s substation between May 23 and May 30.
Whomever is committing the crimes cut their way into the area through a chain-link fence and proceeded to take copper ground wires from the utility transformer. In both cases, the perpetrator is believed to have been shocked when they made contact with ground cables. Burn marks were visible in both cases on wires left at the scenes.
"These situations are life-threatening because the perpetrator is working illegally around very high voltages," said WE Energies spokesperson Brian Manthey. "Even our professionals who have extensive training and years of experience take very serious safety precautions."
Caledonia police say they were called at about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday to the Michna substation for the theft of 14 copper ground wires worth about $1,000. The wires were painted silver to try and disguise the fact that they’re really copper, but the thief in this newest case was savvy enough to scrape the paint away to reveal the copper.
Two pieces of copper wire - one of which has a burn mark - and a pair of pliers were also found at the scene and taken into evidence.
Police say the hole in the fence was only about 18 inches square, indicating the suspect may be small. When officers returned to the area a few hours later, the hole in the fence had been repaired and a shrub had been removed. They believe this location was chosen for entrance to the substation because the shrub shielded the suspect from being seen from 7-Mile Road.
CAPD Lt. Gary Larsen said the cases are under investigation and the department is checking area hospitals for anyone coming in for treatment of electrical burns.
“Our investigators are looking for the person responsible,” he said. “Whoever is doing this is lucky they weren’t killed.”
Manthey confirmed the utility is working with the police to try and solve these cases, but in the meantime, there are enhanced security measures in place.
"We have directed patrols conducted by We Energies personnel at these substations and others in the area," he said.
If anyone sees anything suspicious around any utility property, they are urged to call 911 to report it immediately. Anyone with any information about these crimes can also leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at (888) 636-9330, email:http://racine.crimestoppersweb.com, or text message: RACS to 274637 (CRIMES).