We've heard of a rise in copper theft in the Kansas City area, too; mainly from our suppliers who have told us stories of HVAC pipes being stolen from churches/schools, as well as conductor theft from new construction and untenanted buildings.
About 2 1/2 weeks ago, we came to work and found that about half our plant was dead, and the other half was flaky, power-wise. Working my way backwards from the farthest dead subpanel, I eventually got to the service entrance for our bus bars to find that we were missing a phase at the switchgear feed (comes down the bus bars from the roof). I went onto the roof to see if a tree branch had taken out a phase and found that we were missing four of six 500MCM feeders!
For that particular service entrance (we actually have three total SEs), there is about a 70' run of six (3-ph, parallel) 500MCM conductors to the bus entrance. Someone had cut out four of the six (live conductors, 240v 800A service!) overnight and made off with them - about 240' was missing, overall.
Our story has a happy ending, however: While I was combing over the area, trying to figure out how someone got out with all that wire (there's only about a 6' wide track behind the building, with a steep earthen slope on one side and our building on the other), I found a nylon pouch containing a pair of lineman's gauntlets. Said gloves had someone's name in them (first and last!) in permanent marker.
The police looked up the name on the gloves, went to the person's house, and were told, "oh, I loaned those gloves to so-and-so about a week ago". When the police got to so-and-so's house, there was so-and-so's girlfriend on the front porch, shucking the insulation off of our conductors.
Amazing confluence of boldness and stupidity in this story, no?
We got our copper back, so-and-so and his girlfriend are in jail, and we're back in business.
Upon close inspection of the stolen copper and the ends that were left, it seems that so-and-so used a pair of bolt cutters to clip the wires...and we're out about $15k in lost production, EC/PoCo charges, and new runs of copper (at about $8.50US/ft).
Sorry to be so long-winded. I'll try to do better in the future (long time lurker, but this is my first post). I'll see if I can upload some pictures of the missing runs of conductor, too, if there's any interest.