CRIME ALERT: Wire Thefts and Damaging Power Surges

WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- American Electric Power (AEP) workers tell thieves stole hundreds of feet in copper wiring and may have caused power surges that destroyed people's appliances.

Sheriff's officials said crews caught someone stealing wire in the Prichard area, but that person got away.

Meanwhile, neighbors noticed the effects around 2 a.m. Monday, as surges overpowered their electronics.

"Right in here's the outlet where the microwave was. We had one of these surge protectors on it, and it's one of them that blowed," said Kevin Roberts.

Roberts is one of many along Prichard Road, assessing a slew of damage. He's checking on his parents.

"I just feel like none of the electrical wiring is safe at this point," Roberts said.

Wayne County Sheriff's officials said crews spotted at least one person stealing neutral wiring near Prichard Elementary.

Appalachian Power said the wire is made of copper and keeps the electric currents stable.

Just feet from Roberts' parent's home, other neighbors faced similar problems.

"About two a.m., I woke up with the TV, the scratchy, then I went back to sleep and then about four o'clock this morning I woke up and everything was completely off," said Angela Estep.

Crews lined the road Monday, making repairs and checking lines.

Neighbors believe power surges fried their appliances, costing them hundreds to possibly thousands of dollars.

"This coffee pot was plugged in right here and this does not work at all," Estep said.

"We have no air conditioner or anything, I tried the air conditioning unit, the forced air unit, it won't kick on," Roberts said.

AEP said the theft could have caused the surges. The company estimates about 100 people were affected.

State Police tell they are investigating the theft.

In the meantime, neighbors are frustrated.

"I guess that's what it is, somebody trying to make a quick buck," Roberts said.

"You buy those little surge protector things and they protect things, but not this time," Estep said.

But one thing is for sure: they have a growing repair bill and few assurances.

"I just don't feel like the house is safe for them to stay here right now," Roberts said.

If you were affected, an AEP spokesperson tells it's important to file a claim through AEP's customer service department.

She added, if it's found the issue was beyond their control, they may not pay your claim.

AEP officials also said they do not offer a check-up service for homes after these type of situations, so homeowners and renters may want to look into their insurance policies for options.

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