Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Would-be copper thieves cut cables at Homestead Village, but failed to get away with the goods.
Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Photo credit: —Jon McCallister

Blundering metal thieves shut down Placitas shopping center

~Bill Diven

Copper thieves struck the Homestead Village Shopping Center in November causing damage still being tallied but getting only a 240-volt shock for their trouble.

Stopped clocks show the power was cut around 3:30 a.m. on November 20. The attempted theft shut down power to the entire shopping center on State Road 165 and was discovered by staff arriving at the Merc grocery and deli at 8:00 a.m. for the 9:00 a.m. opening.

Physical damage was limited to electrical cabinets where locks and cables were cut. Power was restored at 2:00 p.m.

“We’re hoping to reopen today,” Merc manager Jon McCallister told the Signpost after electricians finished repairs but before PNM arrived to make final connections. “Then we’ll assess things, and we’ll know how much we’ve lost.”

It already appeared the ice cream stock might have to be thrown out, although the fate of the remaining cold and frozen foods was still to be determined. Any lost products were unlikely to be restocked until after Thanksgiving later that week, McCallister said.

“The beer is fine,” he added.

McCallister estimated the cost of the electrical repairs at $1,000 in addition to business, lost products, and the electrical permit and inspection needed for the repairs. Hourly employees also lost wages during the shutdown.

Total costs had not been calculated by the Signpost’s deadline.

From evidence at the scene, it appeared the thieves cut four 1-inch cables of wound copper wire at a transformer, and a service panel, intending to pull the heavy lines from about eighty feet of conduit connecting the two. The haul would have been worth several thousand dollars at current recycling prices around $4 a pound, McCallister said.

Instead, thief or thieves miscalculated with making contact with a live wire and received a jolt of 240 volts. That’s enough to cause burns and possibly other injuries but likely was not fatal.

Both the Placitas Café and Blades’ Bistro are closed on Mondays so they didn’t lose any business, although the owners were waiting for power to be restored before checking refrigerated supplies. The Hoot Gallery and Placitas Del Salon also were closed, leaving staff at two offices and a computer-repair shop to take an unplanned day off.

“Everything was fine,” Kevin Bladergroen, owner and executive chef at Blades’, told the Signpost later.
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