Cables play an important role in everyday life. Made from precious metals such as copper, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that modern life wouldn’t be possible without cables providing homes and buildings with electricity and telecommunication services.
But because they’re made from valuable metals, thieves often target cables. The high demand for metals like copper drives thieves to take whatever they can find, even the metal found in public utility cables.
According to industry estimates, cable theft costs around $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually in the US. This includes the cost of replacing stolen cables, lost productivity due to lost power or electric signals, and property damage.
Per Florida law, stealing copper and other materials from cables is a crime. Severe punishments await those who are convicted.
Cable theft is a felony
Under state law, a person who intentionally takes copper or any other nonferrous metal from a utility or communications service provider while either causing damage to the facility of the utility/service provider or interrupting their ability to provide service commits a criminal offense. It’s also a crime to take nonferrous metals from an electrical substation without authorization from a utility.
The offense is a felony of the first degree, and a conviction leads to up to 30 years in prison.
Theft also leads to costly civil action
Florida’s law also states that if a civil action determines a person illegally took metals from a cable, they’re liable for three times the cost of damages suffered by the affected utility or communications provider. These damage costs include any property damage, injury or wrongful death caused by the taking of the metals.
Cable theft is a crime so grave that it’s a first-degree felony – the same criminal degree assigned to drug trafficking, home invasion, and armed robbery. Those who face charges should carefully plan their defense in court because a conviction leads to decades in prison.