3/23/2007
Electrical equipment theft increasing across AEP Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas, March 21, 2007 – A booming scrap metal market and the dramatic increase in wire thefts has AEP Texas officials very concerned. AEP Texas is asking customers and the public to report any suspicious activity near company facilities to local law enforcement officials and to notify the company as well.

“We are seeing an increase in thefts of copper and aluminum wire from facilities across our AEP Texas service territory,” said Lou Villagomez, AEP Texas Regional Security Coordinator. “This creates serious safety hazards and service reliability issues for our company and for our customers. We want to raise public awareness of the dangers and consequences of this activity. We also are taking action to apprehend and prosecute these thieves as we work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement.”
 
Villagomez said employees are exposed to more electrical hazards when grounding wire is stolen. Thieves also have been killed or seriously injured across the AEP service territory when cutting into an energized power line or coming into contact with high voltage. Recently, a suspected copper thief was seriously burned when removing copper wires from electrical poles in Jourdanton, Texas.

Not only is this type of activity extremely dangerous, it is illegal. AEP Texas is working with law enforcement and businesses that process scrap metal across the state to identify and recover equipment stolen from its facilities. These efforts already have resulted in the recovery of some materials and the arrest of individuals suspected of committing the thefts.

The company says it also is deploying new security technology around its facilities and substations, and making procedural changes to how it stores wire and equipment not already in use.

AEP Texas has a toll-free, 24/7 number dedicated to security issues. Anyone wishing to report suspected theft of or tampering with electrical equipment should call the Security Operations Center at 1.866.747.5845.

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AEP Texas, a unit of American Electric Power, delivers electricity to 900,000 homes, businesses and industries in south and west Texas. AEP Texas provides regulated energy delivery service to consumers, regardless of which retail electric provider they choose. The region headquarters is in Corpus Christi.


Andy Heines 361.881.5511

Frank Espinoza 361.881.5519

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