Beaumont, Texas – A man in Woodville

recently decided to increase his wealth by climbing a utility pole and

stealing the metal wire. He was fortunate not to have lost his life in

the risky theft, but his fortune came to an abrupt end when the

homeowner whose back yard he entered saw the incident and called the

sheriff’s department, leading to an arrest.

The act was more brazen than most; however, theft of equipment from

electrical facilities is on the rise, likely driven by a faltering

economy and rising prices for scrap metal. Entergy Texas is meeting the

problem head on, and reports that aggressive surveillance of facilities,

combined with good relationships with law enforcement and certain

prosecution has led to a corresponding increase in arrests and recovery

of materials.

From 2009 to 2010, the number of arrests in theft incidents increased

by 43 percent, going from 32 to 56. The company’s lead security

specialist reports that the recovery of materials stolen increased by

some 28 percent in that same time period.

Statistics for the first five months of 2011 continue to show the company’s success, with 32 arrests made so far.

“We have installed video cameras at many of our facilities, giving us

real-time monitoring capability,” explained Cecil Turner, head of

security for Entergy Texas. “That alone has enabled us to make more

arrests and recover more materials.”

Turner also cited how closely together Entergy Texas’ employees in the

field work and the good working relationships between the company and

local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the company has

established good relationships with area scrap metal dealers. Earlier

this year, a Beaumont dealer became suspicious of a purchase he had made

and contacted Turner and the police. The metal was indeed Entergy

Texas’ and arrests were made.

But there’s more at stake with thefts from electrical facilities than

the loss of mere metal destined for a scrap dealer or even someone’s

arrest and possible subsequent criminal record. These thefts carry

extreme risk for the perpetrators and the possibility of undermining the

electrical system’s reliability.

“We do not want anyone to put themselves, our employees or our

customers at risk,” stated Shawn Corkran, transmission and distribution

director for Entergy Texas. “In one incident, a man and three of his

friends tried to steal copper from a facility at a shopping center. The

effort caused a flash and started a fire. The man was not severely

injured, but his three friends certainly didn’t help—they fled the


“Only carefully-trained, safety conscious Entergy Texas employees have business in our substations

or up on our poles,” Corkran said. “A typical substation serving a

community or neighborhood may have as much as 230,000 volts of

electricity coming into it, many thousands more volts than is required

to cause death. For example, one-tenth of the amount of current needed

to power a 100-watt light bulb is enough to create a serious heartbeat

irregularity. Imagine what 230,000 volts could do.”

Additionally, when these incidents occur, Entergy Texas’ reliability

suffers. Customers in Beaumont’s West End, as well as customers in The

Woodlands may well remember substation theft incidents in recent years

that left them without power when the effort resulted in serious damage.

“We will protect our equipment,” Corkran said. “And we do not hesitate

to prosecute those who pose a threat to our ability to provide customers

with a safe, reliable source of electricity.”

Entergy Texas, Inc. provides electricity to more than 400,000 customers

in 27 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy is

an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power

production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric

generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in

the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility

customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.