Thieves broke into a PSO substation sometime Tuesday night, making off with several-hundred dollars worth of copper wire.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports it's a crime that frustrates authorities and it's prompting a new law to fight it.

Officials say the thieves didn't just risk their own lives when they broke into the substation.  They risked the lives of the people who work for the utility.

"We've been dealing with copper theft for probably the last two to three years," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

Thieves steal the copper from the plumbing in old buildings, home air conditioners, just about anywhere you can think of.  Power-stations are especially risky though.

"Our concern about it is really safety," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

Whiteford says it's just a matter of time before someone is killed.  And, that includes PSO's employees, who might not realize when they arrive to work that important wiring has been stolen.

"Somebody goes in and steals the copper grounds, that puts our employees at risk.  So, we're particularly sensitive to that and are very interested in seeing people caught," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

That may be easier said than done though because PSO substations number in the hundreds, and many are in remote areas.

"So we really have to rely on people who may live in the areas, if they see something suspicious, call the local authorities right away," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

A new bill is also on its way to the governor's desk that limits who can sell metals to salvage yards to certain kinds of contractors like plumbers, electricians, and railroad workers.

It would also ban the salvage yard from buying the metal unless the seller can furnish proof, like a bill of sale or receipt that shows he owns it.

"If we can dry up the market, then there will be no need to do this," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

Salvage yards would face hefty fines and could lose their license if they were caught breaking the law.