Westar Energy officials who are dealing with $200,000 in damage at a substation over the weekend say thieves also hit two other substations.
The utility discovered damage Monday at substations near Valley Center and in Wichita. Westar Manager Doug VenJohn says thieves have hit 31 substations just in April. There were only 15 similar thefts in all of 2012.
Westar crews were at six different substations Monday to make repairs related to copper thefts. The company will replace the stolen copper with materials that have no scrap value.
Kansas utility company officials say someone who caused a power outage and more than $150,000 in damage at a substation could possibly be seriously injured.
Westar crews went to check on a Wichita substation at 5:45 a.m. Saturday found grounding cables and copper wire missing and noticed the chain link fence was cut.
Westar says whoever broke into the substation was messing with dangerous materials and probably was severely injured when the transformer shorted out. They could possibly be blind, deaf and seriously burned.