GREENVILLE, S.C., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Police in South Carolina and four other states said at least seven men have been electrocuted since July while trying to steal copper wire out of power lines.
Police said copper, which has risen to near-record prices, has been stolen from air conditioning units, exposed pipes, vases from graveyards and church bells across the country, USA Today reported Wednesday.
"It is a growing problem with the rise in the price of metals," Lt. Shea Smith of the Greenville County, S.C., Sheriff's Office, told the newspaper.
Smith said one attempted wire thief was found electrocuted with wire cutters and other tools July 7 and another was found Aug. 30.
"It's surprising to find two deaths in such a short time frame," Shea said. He said most thieves find easier ways to steal copper, such as raiding construction sites, USA Today said.
He said at least 30 copper thefts have been reported in the country this year.
Detroit's 2nd Deputy Chief James Tate told the newspaper three deaths linked to copper theft have occurred in the city this year, including two since July. Other copper-related deaths occurred in Fort Worth, Texas; Pineville, W.Va.; and Aurora, Colo.