Copper thieves are at it again.
“I had a visit from them,” said Rick Fiskel, who farms near Neepawa and has heard of up to a dozen thefts on farms in the area.
Sometime during the August long weekend, wire was stripped off a quarter-mile irrigation pivot. Thieves had stripped off the long wires that stretch along the pivot’s full length, and each 10-foot-long strand running from the junction box above to the electric motors that power each synchronized wheel.
“They pulled the wire right out of the electric motors, plus the stuff across the top,” he said.
The thieves seemed to be targeting pivots that are concealed by bush. In trying to make a few measly bucks by fencing the copper to scrap dealers, they caused enormous damage to his equipment.
The cost of replacing the stolen wire is difficult to figure, he added.
“It depends on how much damage they did. We figure with ours, by the time they buggered up the panel and stuff, too, that we’re somewhere between $10,000-$12,000,” said Fiskel. “I haven’t got the bill yet.”
Fiskel noted the thieves seemed to be interested only in copper, possibly because once
the insulation is burnt off, it is virtually untraceable. A $15,000 generator set near the pivot was left untouched.
Between May 20 and Aug. 25, Carberry RCMP reported receiving six separate complaints of theft of wiring from pivots in the Rural Municipalities of North and South Cypress.
Suspects are believed to be targeting these pivots late at night and cut the wire several times in long lengths, RCMP said last week.
In many cases, the wire is providing high-voltage power to the pivot. Suspects are risking death or severe injury to cut the wire while it is live, RCMP said.
The replacement value of the wire from the six Carberry properties is about $40,000.
It’s speculated the suspects then take the wire to another location, burn or melt the insulation from the wire, then take the copper to sell at various scrapyards.
RCMP urged the public to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222- TIPS (8477) or the Carberry detachment at 204-834-2905 with any information that might identify suspects or lead to arrests.
RCMP also reminded rural residents to report any suspicious persons seen travelling in the area.
daniel. winters @ fbcpublishing.com
“Wefigurewith ours,bythetime theybuggeredup thepanelandstuff, too,thatwe’re
– RICK FISKEL