What Business Owners Need to Know About Wire Theft in New Mexico

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What is Wire Theft?

How to Prevent Wire Theft

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Wire theft occurs when a thief removes the copper wires from your electrical system. This causes the power to your business to shut down completely. If this has happened to you, you’ll notice right away because of the power loss. You will also probably see the damage done to your electrical panel and equipment.

The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to wire theft. Replacing stolen wires isn’t just an additional cost and inconvenience. It often partially or completely shuts down businesses for 24 – 48 hours. This creates an undue hardship for you as a business owner and is frustrating for your customers. You can decrease your chances of wire theft by taking the following steps:

  • Install spotlights at the location of your electrical panel and equipment
  • Install security cameras
  • Check with TLC and PNM to see if a locked/secured panel or locked distribution is an option for your business
  • Replace copper wire with aluminum wire and place a sticker stating it is aluminum

The basic principle is to not make it easy. Criminals usually look for a quick, easy target. If you make it difficult, you are less likely to be a victim.

What to do if you’re the victim of wire theft

If you do happen to be the victim of wire theft, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Notify the police and take any necessary action to make sure you, your employees, and your customers are safe.
  2. Call TLC or another trusted electrical contractor as soon as possible. Getting your business back up and running is the top priority.

How TLC gets you back up and running after a wire theft

24-hour emergency service

We respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are the victim of wire theft, we’ll show up no matter the time of day, then work around the clock to get your business back online.

Provide generators to run essential equipment

Whenever it’s reasonable to do so, TLC will provide generators to keep your business at least partially operational during the repairs. This is necessary because the damage caused by most copper wire theft takes a minimum of 24 – 48 hours to repair. That’s a long time to be completely shut down.

Work hard to minimize costs

We recognize that this situation is not your fault. It creates hardship and frustration for you. We will do everything we can to keep the repair costs as low as possible.

Capture and record costs for insurance claims

Our team keeps careful track of the costs incurred during the repairs. The goal is to make the extent of the damage clear to try and help any insurance claims go more smoothly.

Work will be inspected, and a soft start conducted

When the work is completed, TLC will ensure all the correct inspections are scheduled. We will also do a soft start, which means going into the building and starting the power-up breaker by breaker to avoid power surges and to make sure that the power is balanced.

At the end of the day, getting your business back up and running safely is our goal. Our team of licensed electricians is prepared to work around the clock to make sure you can get back to work.

Thoughts and tips from TLC’s commercial electrical manager

Protect sensitive electronics from power surges

An electrical surge can happen when the power is first restored after wire theft. If the equipment was on when the power went off, you run the risk of frying it when the power comes back on. Make sure to use surge protection for all sensitive electronics like computers and data storage servers.

Do a visual inspection and walk-through of electrical equipment

If your business has been closed for the weekend or for an extended period of time, conduct a visual inspection of your electrical panel before turning on the power. If the wire has been stolen, you’ll see the damage to the panel. Don’t try to turn the power on if you see the damage, or you risk surges that could damage appliances and electronics.

Do not try to repair electrical panels and equipment yourself

Electricity is useful, but it’s dangerous. It’s also easy to cause more damage if you’re not trained in electrical repair. You can flip switches, plug things in, and reset breakers as needed. For electrical work beyond this, call a licensed electrician.

The bottom line is that it’s hard on any business to lose power for an extended period of time. That’s why it’s important to prevent wire theft whenever possible. If you do find yourself facing a loss of power, reach out to TLC’s licensed commercial electricians at 505-761-9644 or request service online today. Questions about wire theft? Ask a pro today