BANGOR, Maine — Surveillance cameras at a Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. substation recently caught two men scoping out the property, and company officials — who believe the men plan to return and steal copper wire — asked the public Tuesday for help in identifying them.
One of the men broke into the substation about 6 p.m. Aug. 30 and can be seen on camera checking out several large rolls of electrical wire. Hydro would not specify which station was the target, but said it was in the Bangor area.
That “leads us to believe that that individual was intending to come back,” John Greaves, Bangor Hydro safety officer, said at a news conference Tuesday. “The value of copper continues to be high and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. has experienced sporadic break-ins at several high-voltage electrical substations during the past several years.”
Tampering with substations and high-voltage equipment is very dangerous, he said.
“From our experience, most thieves don’t understand the hazards behind stealing electrical wire,” Greaves said. “It could result in injury to themselves, up to and including death and electrocution.”
In addition to dangers faced by those trying to steal copper, employees who use equipment that is compromised also face hazards, said Gerry Chasse, Bangor Hydro’s executive vice president of operations. Damaged materials must be repaired or replaced, which in the long run costs customers money, he said.
“It behooves all of us, from a cost and liability perspective, to prevent this type of theft from happening,” he said.
To address the rise in copper theft, Bangor Hydro has increased surveillance and patrol inspections of its substations in recent years and installed surveillance equipment at select locations.
“We just want to get the message out that we can see you,” Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon said Tuesday.
While no copper wire was stolen during the Aug. 30 break-in, those involved could face criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges, said Sgt. William Sheehan of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’re requesting that anyone with knowledge about the identity of the suspects please contact our agency,” he said.
The man who broke into the Bangor-area substation was described at a white male of average height, muscular and with tattoos, Faloon said. It appears he recently had a haircut, because the sides of his head were shaven, while the top was short but spiky, she said.
Those with information about any suspicious activity concerning any Bangor Hydro substations can call the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department at 947-4585.