Sackville — Security has been stepped up at power stations across the province this week following a brazen weekend theft in which over 600 megawatts of electricity was taken from the NB Power terminal in Memramcook. The thieves, who struck late on Saturday night, accessed the site by breaking through a chain-link fence with tools thought to have been stolen in a previous raid. Once inside the compound, thieves made their way to the main power grid and drained the electricity into large portable batteries before making their getaway.
The stolen electricity, which marks the largest such heist on record in the province, could power up to 60 houses for a whole year, and is expected to be sold on the black market, where the trade in energy remains high following a May 2015 NB Power rate hike. “We’ve certainly seen increased criminal activity related to energy.” said RCMP Const. Stephane Garnier, who was first on the scene from the local detachment. “Although most of it has been people stealing wind generators and extension cords, this was honestly only a matter of time.”
The illicit incursion was discovered early Sunday morning by the site’s security technician, Trent McGovern, on his morning patrol of the facility. “The sun had just come up,” said McGovern, “and as I was making my way around the south field on my security golf cart, I saw that there was a hole in the fence and the grass had been all torn up. I turned on my yellow light and called it right in to dispatch. I knew for sure that something was up.”
The on-site team notified the police and began their own investigation, which is when the full magnitude of the theft was discovered.
The RCMP has asked for public support in securing the return of the stolen electricity. “If anyone has any evidence of anyone acting suspiciously,” says Const. Garnier, “like if they’re keeping all their lights on all the time, or they keep laughing when you tell them of a new NB Power rate hike, be sure to report it right away. We’ll look into any and all of the leads we receive.
“We’re primarily concerned that this surplus energy will be sold at high prices to unsuspecting customers during the winter,” continued Garnier, “and really, it’s only the power companies who should be allowed to do that.”