TVA Police Working With Neighbors to Help Stop Copper Thefts
December 16, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In an effort to curb thefts of copper and other materials, investigators and officers with the Tennessee Valley Authority Police are finding new resources in the neighborhoods around TVA’s properties - the neighbors themselves.
“We have security measures in place to deter people from stealing copper and other materials from our sites, but we can’t be everywhere,” said David Jolley, TVA vice president of Police and Physical Security.
TVA officers are going door to door to ask residents living near TVA’s switchyards, substations and construction areas to help keep watch on the properties and let TVA know about any suspicious activity, especially at night.
“We have received tips and information from neighbors that have already helped us recover stolen items and solve cases,” Jolley said.
Thefts of copper wire and equipment containing copper and other metals are increasing around the country as the resale value of those metals has risen in recent years. Such losses not only impact TVA financially, but can hurt TVA’s ability to provide reliable power.
“If someone steals copper wire meant to ground electrical lines, it can cause the substation to shut down, which would disrupt power to the surrounding area,” Jolley said.
TVA continues to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases of suspected theft from TVA property.
In early December, a contract employee in Alabama pleaded guilty to federal charges of theft and conspiracy after he was arrested for stealing copper from a substation at Wheeler Dam in August 2010. As part of the plea, the suspect agreed to repay TVA more than $17,000 for the items stolen from the site.
"TVA takes this issue very seriously,” Jolley said. “Theft of copper and other property can impact our finances and reliability, and it’s a safety concern.”
Anyone who sees suspicious activity on or around TVA property, or who has information about such activity, can call TVA Police at (800) 548-4005. There is no charge for the call.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.
Scott Brooks, Knoxville, (865) 632-8031
Media Relations, Knoxville (865) 632-6000