Copper pipe theft causes natural gas leak - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Copper pipe theft causes natural gas leak

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By: Jenn Schanz

Just before 9:30 Monday morning, a neighbor walking their dog near 28th and U smelled something odd, and called officials.

The home the smell was coming from was vacant, getting cleaned out for its next tenant.

LFR officials say the smell was natural gas, leaking from a cut to copper piping in the home.

According to authorities, a thief broke into the vacant home and attempted to steal some piping from a hot water heater, which is connected to a natural gas line.

The property owner, Pam Woods, says this type of theft isn't uncommon.

"It happens a lot. I have several rental properties in town, and it's not the first time this has happened."

Woods suspects the thief was trying to make a profit off the copper.

"Copper is so expensive right now, and so you can turn it in, you know; cut the copper wiring or plumping out of a property and go in and get it weighed and get paid for it," she says.

I spoke to a Lincoln scrap metal company; they say copper generally goes for $2.99 a pound, and that they've seen an increase in copper piping being brought in.

Officials at Black Hills Energy say the risk isn't worth the reward when it comes to messing with gas pipes.

"Anytime that you would interrupt the flow of natural gas or improperly tamper with the piping you could create a hazardous situation for yourself and the neighbors in the area surrounding the property," says External Affairs Manager Brandy Johnson.

Johnson also encourages property owners to have their gas service shut off if they're going to be gone for an extended period of time.


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