Scrap Theft Gone Wrong, Man Found Dead

Posted at: 06/19/2013 6:35 PM
Updated at: 06/19/2013 6:39 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 News) -- A man is found dead near Rochester and investigators believe it happened because he was breaking the law. The Olmsted County Sheriff's Department says that man was electrocuted and that it likely happened while he was trying to steal scrap metal.

This isn't the first time we've heard of scrappers targeting electric wires.

Gary Fitterer of the People's Energy Co-op says he’s seen far too many scrappers taking a dangerous risk cutting and stealing electric and copper wiring,

"Things have been happening more often,” said Fitterer

With the primary voltage at 7,000 volts they can cause serious injuries and even death.

"It can happen anytime, so those that it didn't happen too were actually lucky," said Fitterer.

That was not the case when the Olmsted County Sheriff's department was called to an abandoned farm off of Viola Road NE Tuesday afternoon on the report of an unconscious male.

"We located an individual that was near a power pole at that location and that individual was deceased," said Sheriff David Mueller.

Sheriff Mueller says, based on the early investigation, he believes the male found was in the process of scrapping and cutting metal wire from the site.

"There's evidence on the individual that there was a burn or appeared to be burns on him from electrocution." Said Sheriff Mueller.

There was other evidence of scrapping left behind at the site, as well as the male's vehicles.

With the number of cases the sheriff's department has seen lately of scrappers targeting electrical wires, Sheriff Mueller says enough is enough.

"This is a young adult male and nobody wants somebody hurt or killed because of something that could have been prevented,"  said Sheriff Mueller.

Fitterer says these scrappers are not just putting their own lives at risk.

"Even if the individual isn't hurt they set up a situation where protective devices may be inactive and because of that the general public and those servicing these areas are at risk," said Fitterer.

The sheriff's department is looking for the person that made the 911 call.  They believes that person may have been with the man who died and may have much needed information.

Also, authorities are asking for the public's help to cut down on these crimes. If you see any suspicious activity, call your local law enforcement.