FortisAlberta is warning residents that thieves may be targeting electric utility power lines to steal copper wire from the equipment installed on poles.

In a recent social media post on X (formerly known as Twitter) the company reminded residents that if one sees a damaged power pole or a power line on the ground, or any other signs of damage to FortisAlberta's equipment, it's imperative to contact the company.

"Do not get closer than ten metres to any downed lines in case the area is energized. If you see suspicious activity around our facilities by individuals who do not look like utility employees, do not confront them," the post stated.

According to FortisAlberta, copper has increased in value by 400 per cent in the past few years and thieves sell it to scrap metal dealers.

"Profits are believed to be connected to the drug trade. Thanks for helping us ensure we can provide safe and reliable electricity to our customers."

At the end of December, Mounties intercepted a suspected copper wire thief in broad daylight.

According to Drumheller RCMP, an off-duty RCMP officer from Calgary was driving on Highway 573, East of Drumheller when he witnessed a lone male suspect in a gas plant compressor site who appeared to be stealing copper wire.

"Drumheller RCMP officers were notified and responded to the area; however, before their arrival, the suspect left the scene in a white Nissan pickup truck.  Through collaboration with the off-duty officer, officers intercepted and stopped the suspect vehicle."

The lone occupant of the vehicle was arrested and taken into custody. Investigators confirmed that a break-and-enter did occur at the compressor site. 

Police also located large amounts of copper wire, contraband cigarettes, drug paraphernalia, apparent cocaine, bear spray, fireworks, and more in the vehicle. 

Detachment Commander, Staff Sgt. Robert Harms said that the company that owns the compressor site no doubt sustained significant damages and losses as a result of this crime. 

"The keen eye and involvement of the off-duty RCMP Sergeant played a key role in not only identifying that a break-and-enter was in progress but also the apprehension of the suspect.”

Carbon resident, 37-year-old Bryan Burrill was charged with Break-and-Enter, Mischief to Property, Possessing a weapon for Dangerous Purpose, Possessing a Weapon, ammunition, or explosive contrary to a Prohibition Order, Possess cocaine, Possess contraband cigarettes, as well as Driving an uninsured motor vehicle.

Burrill was taken before a Justice of the Peace for a Judicial Interim Release Hearing and released. He is scheduled to appear in the Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller at the end of this month. 

If you have any information regarding criminal activity, call 911, or contact your local Police Service.  If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at

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