That arc blast was pretty gnarly! I'm betting on him having at least 2nd degree burns to his face at the minimum (if he was wearing gloves and a jacket, his arms might've escaped serious injury. I've never heard of a copper thief being smart enough to follow NFPA 70E
I have seen pictures like this where the thief cut live wires, thinking that it was off. One picture I saw the poor dude was stuck to the pole and burnt to a crisp.
On the other hand I was working with a senior citizen housing project where the buildings were 7 stories tall. The EC had all 500 MCM copper on the 3rd floor. The theives pulled up with "landscaper" type of trucks, rolled the copper off the 3rd floor, into the truck and left with 3 full reels.
I am not sure because it was caught on security video and that was what I was told. I think that it was a large box truck with a lift tailgate and I guess they had a small bobcat type tractor in the truck. Otherwise, how the heck could they lift up those large wooden reels of copper wire.
You're describing what amounts to being an inside (topside?) job.
It absolutely requires some rigging to lower 500 kCMIL cable down from the 3rd floor -- if you're going to do so while it's on the spools.
Some 'landscaper trucks' have hoists for lifting LARGE trees into position. These are not common, ordinary trucks. They're built for the big industrial and commercial market -- in which full sized trees are shifted around to give a headquarters building and the like a mature landscape.
Such tree cranes are able to hoist multi-ton trees -- such as 100 year-old olive trees from an orchard to a backyard.
If that is the rig used... then it stands to reason that the job was fingered -- for a commission -- by one of the tradesmen -- and that the heist was performed by a crime gang.
In California these gangs come in two basic flavors: Mexican and Chinese -- criminal gangs are never multi-ethnic -- that's a Hollywood shtick. In both cases, the gangs are entirely oriented towards exporting the goods back to the home country.
Twin 40-foot containers were nabbed on the Long Beach docks -- absolutely crammed with stolen professional construction tools -- destination: China.
And in other news, tradesmen dedicated to the bowling arts have seen their ENTIRE tool kit -- in their truck -- evaporate from border states -- destination: Mexico and points south.
And, lastly, the famous Astin-Martin of Goldfinger movie fame was stolen from a Florida warehouse by high-line pros. Destination: some Narco-King south of the border. The car was literally flown out by a C-123 -- which is where some movie plots got the idea. (Con Air, etc.)
Such crimes are oriented towards 'exports' because any attempt to liquidate the hot goods within the US is going to bring the heat.
One last, last, true story: a civilian passerby was scoping ten Wemco reels of 750 kCMIL feeders in downtown Sacramento, during break-time. Once spotted, and persued, he ran at breakneck speed across the street.
Half-way through the cross-walk a gentleman 'clothes-lined' him straight to the asphalt.
It turned out the man was a parole officer -- and this 'client' had missed his appointments for the last month -- the very same 'copper shopper'!
His idea of gainful employment was being a finger-man for local crews looking to rip off electrical contractors. ( It's the value to weight thing: plumbing supplies are too heavy; HVAC, too specific -- copper feeders are just right.)
Any EC with big feeders ought to pencil in a security detail from a rent-a-cop if they're to remain overnight on a jobsite.
As for myself, I always took delivery in the morning... with installation the same day.
The only theives to bother my work -- were my own crew-men. They came back Saturday attempting to pull out 500 kCMIL copper with a jury-rigged sub-compact. It nearly took their bumper off.
Yes, yes, their obvious tire marks were in the dust, proximate to the building. While they couldn't get the wire to budge -- they did succeed in damaging the panels to the tune of $5,000 in repairs.
As the very same crew that installed them, there was no fear of leaving fingerprint evidence.
That jobsite was overrun with thieves. The boss loved to hire straight from the big house. He never did make the connection, though. He figured that he could 'aim' thieves.
Supposedly that is exactly what they did. The thief's just rolled the spools to the end of the floor and dropped them down the 3 stories.
A long time ago I was going to get a job working on the railroad (RR) around here. They were upgrading the electric lines from 13KV DC to 33KV AC. My dad talked me out of it because the RR that we worked for was being bought out by a bigger conglomerate. Anyway, those over head bare wires look good to a copper thief. They better hope and pray that they know it is off before they cut them. I have seen several pictures where a thief thought the power was off. He turned into a crispy critter.