Calgary

Copper theft blamed for northeast Calgary power outage that left nearly 5,000 homes without electricity

A case of copper theft is being blamed for a power outage that affected thousands of homes in northeast Calgary early Tuesday morning.

Enmax has faced numerous thefts and attempted thefts of scrap metal from its electrical infrastructure

A bucket truck crew works on a power line in this handout file photo from Enmax. (Enmax)

A case of copper theft is being blamed for a power outage that affected thousands of homes in northeast Calgary early Tuesday morning.

Enmax, the city-owned power company, said the outages started at 5:54 a.m. and affected 4,732 customers in the residential neighbourhoods of Taradale and Saddle Ridge, as well as 107 customers in nearby industrial areas.

The power was restored within about two hours.

An Enmax spokesperson later said the outage was caused by a copper theft incident — and it's not the first such case.

In December 2015, Enmax issued a statement about what it described as a growing problem with thieves breaking open electrical transmission equipment for scrap copper, despite the obvious hazards that come with the practice.

"Recently, we've seen a rash of copper thefts from our electrical transformers (those green boxes found in many neighbourhoods) and other electricity infrastructure," the company said at the time.

"This unfortunate trend is caused by people who are willing to risk injury, or possibly death for a few quick, albeit illegal dollars."

In February, Calgary Police arrested and charged two people with breaking and entering in relation to an incident at an Enmax transformer.

In 2013, a man was killed during an apparent theft attempt an Enmax substation in southeast Calgary.

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