American Electric Power says 100 miles of copper wire has been stolen from the utility in West Virginia by individuals looking for a quick way to make a buck.|
They shimmy up poles, snip the wire and sell it to scrap dealers and metal recyclers.
AEP says the true cost of copper theft may be much higher, and deadlier, than thieves realize.
Four years ago, copper prices skyrocketed.
That increase in price, coupled with West Virginia's rural nature and high levels of poverty, placed the state squarely as a target.
Thieves continue to cut live power lines despite numerous instances of people being severely burned or killed by electrical shock.
Copper theft has become a nationwide problem.
Phil Moye, a spokesman for Appalachian Power, which services mostly southern West Virginia, said he estimates nearly $1 million annually is lost, but the actual costs of replacement is much higher.