Thieves Target EV Charging Stations Nationwide

They're stealing cables that contain valuable copper wiring
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 12, 2024 7:53 AM CDT
Thieves Target EV Charging Stations Nationwide
A Tesla supercharging location is seen June 3 in Houston. Charging stations have been hit particularly hard by thieves who likely want to sell the highly conductive copper wiring inside the cables at near-record prices.   (AP Photo/Lekan Oyekanmi)

Just before 2am on a chilly April night in Seattle, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup stopped at an electric-vehicle charging station on the edge of a shopping center parking lot. Two men got out. A security camera recorded them pulling out bolt cutters. One man snipped several charging cables; the other loaded them into the truck. In under 2 1/2 minutes, they were gone. The scene that night has become part of a troubling pattern across the country: Thieves have been targeting EV charging stations, intent on stealing the cables, which contain copper wiring, per the AP.

The stolen cables often disable entire stations, forcing EV owners on the road to search desperately for a working charger. Broken-down chargers have emerged as the latest obstacle for US automakers in their strenuous effort to convert more Americans to EVs. About 4 in 10 US adults say they believe EVs take too long to charge, or that they don't know of any charging stations nearby. Two years ago, according to Electrify America, which runs the nation's second-largest network of direct-current fast chargers, a cable might be cut perhaps every six months at one of its 968 charging stations.

Through this May, that figure reached 129—four more than in all of 2023. Two other leading EV charging companies—FLO and EVgo—also have reported a rise in thefts. The charging companies say thieves are after the copper in the cables. In late May, copper hit a record high of nearly $5.20 a pound, up about 25% from a year ago. Charging companies say there isn't actually very much copper in the cables, and what copper is there is difficult to extract. Houston Sgt. Robert Carson estimates that criminals can get $15 to $20 per cable at a scrap yard. "They're not making a significant amount of money," he said. "They're not going to be sailing on a yacht anywhere." Still, the more cables the thieves can steal, the more they can cash in. At $20 a cable, 20 stolen cables could fetch $400. More here.

(More charging stations stories.)

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