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Copper theft leaves 2,000 without power in Kingston during one of SA's coldest days this year

Tuesday June 8, 2021 - 07:54 EST
ABC image
Crews are on site in Kingston fixing the problem. - ABC

On one of the coldest days of the year so far, thousands of Kingston residents have been left shivering following mass power outages.


Despite a huge storm that swept through south-east South Australia on Monday night, the culprit was not the damaging winds and hail.


Instead, SA Power has confirmed the outages were due to the theft of copper wiring at its Wyomi Power Station near Kingston.


The outage has affected 2,137 customers in Kingston and the surrounding areas.


Earlier this week Housing SA declared a Code Blue, as the Bureau of Meteorology forecast an "Antarctic blast", moving across South Australia and triggering a state-wide response for those experiencing homelessness.


SA Power Networks spokesperson Paul Roberts said the power had been off since about 9:00am and was expected to be reconnected this evening.


?Copper thieves had actually broken into the substation and stolen copper, including some of the earthing which is an essential part of our protection for the network and for our customers,? he said.


?So we've had to actually turn off the power so that our people can safely go into site and make repairs and reconnect to customers.?


He said it was a growing issue, with 14 incidents in the past month of people breaking into substations and taking copper.


?We've doubled our standard reward to $20,000 ? that's for information that leads to a conviction for those responsible for the copper theft.


?We believe someone knows something about this.


?Whether it's information about who's breaking into the substations or even who's receiving the stolen copper, we're seeking public help in getting some information to Crime Stoppers so we can nip this in the bud."


Prices at all-time high


According to the Australian Mining and the Australian Stock Exchange, copper reached a record high of $13,200 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange in May.


Limestone Coast police said the high prices had led to an increase of copper and scrap metal thefts from properties across the region.


?We certainly have been seeing that pop up within the last few weeks, with an acute sense,? operations manager Inspector Campbell Hill said.


?We are aware from other regions within our State Operations service that there has been, not a large amount, but a couple of offences that may well form part of a series.


?We are also trying to work within the scrap metal industry to engage with this and make sure that people that are putting copper, copper piping and other sorts of things through in a metal-for-cash-type scenario ? that it?s above board.?


?Very cold and dark day?


Kingston District Council chief executive Nat Traeger said ?it couldn?t be a worse day? for the outage to happen.


?We just hope that everyone's looking after each other and those with wood heaters that have got neighbours that may not ... we hope everyone's reaching out and looking out for each other.


?We've got still some significant rain and weather warnings coming our way, so the worst is not over.


?We're looking at a very, very cold and dark day here in Kingston."







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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