Suspected thief set on fire by power line

April 6, 2008 4:31:19 PM PDT
A man caught fire while apparently trying to steal some copper wire from a PECO power line. Copper theft has become a big problem in the tri-state area. It's also proving to be a very dangerous business as one 31-year-old Upper Darby man found out this weekend.

Upper Darby Police Supt. Mike Chitwood says Police were investigating a power outage when they learned it was caused by a man trying to steal copper from live high voltage electrical wires off Marshall Road.

Chitwood explained to Action News, "What (the thieves) do is they get a saw and they take off five-foot sections. So they go up five-foot high, and they'll strip these wires down and take the copper out."

The wires carried 3400 volts of electricity, and needless to say, the culprit got the shock of his life - his clothes caught on fire.

Chitwood says the suspect, "Significantly burned his arms and his hands, burned his eye brows off. Burned his hair. He's currently in Crozier Chester Hospital Burn Unit in guarded condition. He'll be there for a while."

The suspect is identified as 31-year-old Daniel Peterman of the 200 block of Shelfield in Upper Darby. Police say after the incident he tried to say that he was electrocuted by a down power line around the corner.

"These types if individuals, I mean, when you look at his career criminal record it's all burglaries and thefts. He's a professional burglar... The problem with these guys is that they put everyone at risk."

The incident caused ten thousand dollars worth of damage. Once Peterman gets out of the hospital, he will be charged with theft, aggravated criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person.