Scrap metal dealers on the look out for thieves

Energex, Ergon Energy Network and Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) are asking scrap metal dealers to be on the lookout for stolen electrical equipment following a rise in metal theft.

Over the past two years, there has been more than 300 thefts directly from the state’s electricity distribution network or from the network’s service depots. Recent hot spots for these thefts have been Brisbane’s south, Ipswich and the Capricornia region.

The thefts are costing Energy Queensland millions of dollars in new components and man hours to rectify, diverting resources from other areas of the network. The costs of these thefts is being borne by Queensland’s electricity consumers.

Michael Dart, Energy Queensland’s (EQ) Executive General Manager said metal theft is an increasing problem.

“We are seeing thieves stealing copper cables, powerlines and other valuable metal components placing scrap metal dealers in an unenviable position of inadvertently receiving stolen goods,” he said.

Dart said the thieves are removing components from a live electrical network, not only placing their lives at risk, but leaving live components exposed and risking community safety. All of EQ’s depots now have video surveillance and, in many cases, the criminals entering them are identified, tracked and caught with EQ working closely with police.

Dr Georgina Davis, Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) Chief Executive Officer said: “Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in waste crime and unlicensed operators fuelling this dangerous practice.  Such operators undermine legitimate businesses. We have also seen our members, as well as local council transfer stations, targeted by criminals seeking to steal metal.”

EQ and WRIQ are encouraging scrap metal dealers to be vigilant before buying components that are from the electricity network. WRIQ is also working with its industry members to identify regulatory and compliance solutions, noting that other jurisdictions have implemented initiatives to eradicate the dangerous criminal activity.

Scrap metal dealers can visit www.energex.com.au/coppertheft to view equipment commonly stolen from Queensland’s electricity grid.  WRIQ asks all businesses to call the relevant authorities or call Queensland’s Policelink on 131 444.