Copper thief a real live wire

Man zapped with 11,000 V while trying to pilfer cable.


If Kirk John Thompson had considered a more honest way to make money, he might be alive today.

According to police reports , 43-year-old Thompson and two other men entered a defunct steel mill in Pontypool, South Wales, with the intent to nick copper from scads of cable lying about one April morning. When his bolt cutters touched the plastic coating of a cable still connected to the National Grid, Thompson was electrocuted.

The two accomplices started carrying Thompson’s body form the site but dumped it when they feared they had been spotted; police later arrested the men.

Detective constable Gordon Poole of Gwent Police said Thompson had been at the steelworks a few days before his death to steal copper. Poole added that electricity to much of the site had been shut down after a reported attempt to cut copper wire with an axe had pierced a live cable carrying less than 500 V. Despite this, the detective said, there were still live cables running to the site’s substation.

Two men, who were later arrested, told police they went to the site in the early hours of the morning with Thompson to steal copper. They said they carried him from the scene of his death and abandoned him when they thought someone had seen them.

Deputy coroner Wendy James found amphetamines in Thompson’s bloodstream consistent with “recent abuse,” which she believes would have increased his risk-taking.

The United Kingdom has been plagued by a surge in metal thefts in recent years as the Asian construction and manufacturing boom has pushed up the prices of raw materials. Thieves routinely rip long sections of copper cable from the side of railway lines or steal lead flashing from church roofs, ignoring health and safety warnings from the police and quickly melting down their loot.

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