Thieves cause blackout on St. Croix

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ST. THOMAS - Thieves on St. Croix shorted out a segment of the island's power distribution system Monday and made off with more than 1,000 feet of copper wire.

About 30 homes in the Estate Annally-Mount Victory area on the western end of the island lost power at about noon when a section of V.I. Water and Power Authority's feeder 10 went down, according to WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn.

Dunn said she did not want to divulge too many details about the theft for fear of publicizing the technique.

"We've been doing everything we can on our side to reinforce our infrastructure, but there seem to be thieves with some very sophisticated techniques," Dunn said.

She said WAPA did not have an exact dollar figure for the value of the wire stolen, but said to replace it "is an impact" to WAPA's materials and supplies budget.

Dunn said about 5 p.m. Monday that line crews still were working to try to restore power by nightfall in an area with dense foliage.

"We're trying to get everyone back on before dark," she said. "However, the challenge is that it's in what we call 'the rain forest' - deep into the rain forest - so getting equipment, materials and supplies there does take time."

The V.I. Police Department was alerted to the theft and launched an investigation, according to WAPA. She said anyone found guilty of stealing copper wire will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Anyone with information about the theft can report it to police on St. Croix at 712-6077, 712-6037 or 911, or call the confidential Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-222-8477.

"It's a situation that does cause an inconvenience and there must be some danger to the thieves, so we certainly hope that they will continue to see the danger in actions such as this and the inconvenience that it causes to their neighbors," Dunn said.

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