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Suspected copper thief suffers critical burns from live wires

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 5:36 p.m. HST, Sep 1, 2011

A 45 year-old-man, apparently trying to steal copper wiring from a vacant Sand Island warehouse, suffered burns and was in critical condition this morning, officials said.

The incident happened at about 2 a.m. at a warehouse owned by Roy Yee, at 290 Sand Island Road. The parking lot of the warehouse is rented to New Hope Christian Fellowship Church.

Yee said the warehouse has been stripped off all copper wiring and piping by thieves over the last three months.

The suspect was apparently trying to take about 10 feet of wiring connecting the building's disconnect switch to Hawaiian Electric Co.'s transformer, Yee said.

Yee said the suspect's burnt shirt, part of his baseball cap and a flashlight were recovered from the scene.

Darren Pai, Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman, said the case has been turned over to the police as a possible copper theft case.

Paramedics took the man to the hospital in "critical condition" with burns to his body 

Pai said the only customer to lose electrical power because of the incident was the warehouse.

Earlier this year, a 33-year-old man was taken from the former Hard Rock Cafe site in McCully to Straub Clinic & Hospital in critical condition with burns after he tried to break into a transformer vault in an alleged attempt to steal copper.

Two thirds of Nimitz Highway under the viaduct is without functioning street lights after thieves stole 40,000 feet of copper wiring.

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