Enhanced metals theft laws contribute to reduced crime

One year in, Georgia Transmission has seen reduction in copper theft

Jul 11, 2013, 13:53 ET from Georgia Transmission Corporation

TUCKER, Ga., July 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Transmission reports a significant reduction in metals theft at the utility's substations since new state laws were enacted one year ago. Designed to curb a steady rise in metals theft incidents across the state, the enhanced legislation went into effect July 1, 2012.

Over the last year, Georgia Transmission, which builds and maintains high-voltage transmission lines and substations, has seen fewer incidences of theft, greater collaboration between other utilities and law enforcement agencies, and increased educational opportunities for both recyclers and investigators.

Georgia Transmission, working with its various partners in the utilities industry and law enforcement, was a strong advocate for House Bill 872, which overhauled the existing framework of metals theft laws last year.

"The legislation, coupled with a host of other efforts we've undertaken with our partners, has resulted in a dramatic drop in theft at our substations," said Mike Smith, president and CEO of Georgia Transmission. "We take metals theft seriously because it's a major safety issue for our employees, and this legislation has given law enforcement and our investigators additional resources needed to protect our employees."

Among the significant changes to the state's existing laws, recyclers are now required to take a photograph of the seller and the scrap metal being sold, photocopy the seller's driver's license and record the seller's vehicle tag number. The new law also requires sellers to sign a sworn affidavit stating the metal was not stolen.

Georgia Transmission saw a reduction in crimes when the law went into effect. In 2011, the utility reported 127 theft incidents. That number fell to 83 in 2012. A closer look at the data revealed an even more stark drop with the organization reporting 60 incidents of metals theft from July through December 2011, but only 26 during the same time frame a year later with the enhanced laws in place. That trend has continued through 2013, with only 32 incidents reported from January through June of this year, compared to 63 in January through June of 2012.

"Overall, the 2012 legislation, coupled with aggressive investigation and prosecution efforts, has made a positive impact for the utility industry in our ongoing battle against metals thefts," said Lee Swann, the lead investigator for Georgia Transmission. "Although we have seen a reduction in metals thefts overall, this will continue to be a priority for Georgia Transmission because every incident of theft can put our employees at risk. It's important we remain vigilant in our efforts to investigate and prosecute in coordination with law enforcement and the courts."

About Georgia Transmission
Georgia Transmission, a not-for-profit cooperative owned by 39 Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs), owns more than 3000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and more than 600 substations. These facilities deliver power to Georgia's EMCs who serve nearly 50 percent of Georgia's population (4.5 million).

SOURCE Georgia Transmission Corporation