More than 700 volts of electricity traveled through the thief's hand and out of his feet after he clipped the wire, which was attached to a power box inside the former Ray Anthony International building on Sandbar Ferry Road. The incident happened between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
"The guy cut into a live wire, and it knocked his gloves and hat off," according to Richmond County Investigator Kendall Brown.
The building had been closed for several months but was recently sold to a trucking company, Investigator Brown said. When workers arrived, they found a pair of wire cutters still attached to the box and the thief's charred gloves nearby. Black electrical burns surrounded the area.
Copper thefts have become common in Richmond County and across the country as the price of copper has risen. On Thursday, a pound of copper was trading for about $3.78 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"He may have gotten out of all of that maybe $70," Investigator Brown said. "It's going to cost $8,000 to $10,000 to rewire all of that."
Investigators tracked his footsteps and believe he made his way to a wooded area nearby. Investigator Brown said they are checking with hospitals to determine if anyone has been admitted with serious electrical burns.
Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.