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Following recent incidents, CenterPoint Energy issues critical safety reminders about electrical wire theft dangers

HOUSTON – November 7, 2012 – In the wake of a second incident in as many weeks, CenterPoint Energy is issuing important reminders about the dangers of electrical wire theft. Wire thefts at CenterPoint Energy electric facilities are on the rise and the incidents pose a risk to the lives of the thieves and the workers sent in to replace what was taken.

“Every piece of wire in a substation or other electric facility serves a purpose in delivering electricity,” said John Kellum, division vice president of high voltage power delivery for CenterPoint Energy.  “The risk of death or serious injury the thieves expose themselves to in cutting wire from a substation is mind-boggling.”

The most recent incident occurred late Monday night when a man was found in midtown with severe burns resulting from an attempt to steal wire from an underground electrical facility. This incident is just one in a recent increase in break-ins at CenterPoint Energy electrical facilities, one of which resulted in a thief being electrocuted.

“Our greatest fear is that there will be an incident where a life will be lost,” Kellum said. “Whether it is that of a vandal, one of our employees or an unsuspecting child wandering into a substation left unsecured by thieves, these events could quickly turn into tragedies.”

“Additionally, we want to minimize the increased costs associated with wire theft. We estimate that the theft of just $100 in copper wire can cost up to $5,000 to repair, which translates into higher electricity bills for everyone. We need the community to be our eyes and ears by immediately reporting anything suspicious,” Kellum added. 

To help prevent wire theft and safeguard against electrical dangers:

  • Never enter or touch electrical equipment; always stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Contact the local police or CenterPoint Energy immediately if they notice anything unusual with electric substations or facilities, such as an open substation gate, hanging wire or suspicious personnel near electrical facilities.
  • Call 911 immediately if they see someone attempting to cut wires near power lines or entering a substation. Contact CenterPoint Energy at 877-232-4911 if they have information about unlawful activities.
  • Help spread the word about the dangers and costs of electrical wire theft.

CenterPoint Energy’s Corporate Security team is working with the Houston Police Department to aggressively prosecute wire theft suspects. The team also educates metal recyclers and supports sting operations that not only catch wire thieves in the act, but also target recyclers who knowingly receive stolen wire.

For more information on electrical wire theft, visit CenterPointEnergy.com/wiretheft.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines, and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total nearly $21 billion. With over 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. For more information, visit the company’s website at CenterPointEnergy.com.