"Copper theft is one of our key challenges right now," Tomblin said on May 24. "To compound that problem so many organizations and agencies are running lean when it comes to manpower including the state police and many municipal police agencies. It makes a trying situation that much more trying"
Tomblin said Frontier is doing all it can to address the problem of copper theft in the region, from closely monitoring court cases to investigating thefts and theft attempts. Tomblin said that some of the new cable installed is coated with a jell that makes things harder and messier for copper thieves.
Some new and renovated facilities will see fiber optic glass cable installed at terminals, which will increase product available to consumers and decrease copper theft attempts.
One recent copper theft attempt lead to the death of the alleged thief, while another one apparently turned out to be a failure. In recent days an attempt was made at one of Frontier's physical plants.
"They pulled it out of the truck and dragged it through the fence," Tomblin said of a theft attempt against Frontier near West Logan. "The copper was left behind in the weeds."
Tomblin said a court decision is expected on June 6 in a case from the Man area where several people accused of being involved with a copper theft ring were arrested. Several of those accused thieves have entered guilty pleas on two felony charges and are expected to be sentenced in June.
"I don't have to tell anybody here about copper theft," Tomblin told members of the Logan Rotary Club on Wednesday. "You guys have heard so much about it in our area that you are practically the experts. But it seems to me that the situation we have it looks like a copper laundering scheme. Stolen copper cable can go through two or three or four people before it even gets to a recycling center. And the people who do this stuff do it just to get a little money to buy pills or other drugs."
Tomblin said that a year ago, most copper thieves were a bit more covert in their attempts and would often target cable in remote areas.
"But now, they are getting more gutsy," he explained. "The big outage we had last month? That was from a theft attempt that took place right off Route 10."