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A staggering number of ‘highly dangerous’ copper thefts are ‘putting us all at risk’

Neil Mitchell
Pliers cutting through thick copper cable

The shocking extent of Victoria’s copper theft problem has been revealed, with some road signage and lighting sites targeted more than a dozen times in the past year.

Chris Miller from the Department of Transport says “one public lighting site was struck 20 times in the space of about a year”.

He says Victoria Police recorded 330 copper theft incidents in 2020.

“It’s putting us all at risk,” Mr Miller told Neil Mitchell.

“The way in which they steal this copper is very crude, they get in, they slash wires, they leave live wires exposed.

“Up to 1500 volts could be running through these wires.

“I’ve heard of an incident where a public lighting pole was targeted outside a childcare centre and those live wires were left on the nature strip not far from the entrance.”

Mr Miller says copper theft cost the Department of Transport about a million dollars last year, and it cost power companies millions more.

Power companies have recently developed a chemical which, when injected into copper, allows the metal to be identified as stolen, even when melted down.

“I’d suggest that will put the breaks on a lot of those unscrupulous types out there,” Mr Miller said.

Press PLAY below to hear more about the ‘highly dangerous’ thefts that are ‘putting us all at risk’

‘Entire gantry can become electrified’: Why lights were out on the Western Ring Road last night

Neil Mitchell