Cable theft: Enel Distribución recorded more than 750 cases in 2022, tripling numbers from the previous year

Published on Thursday, 5 January 2023

  • The most affected commune was Santiago, with 349 cases between January and December, followed by Recoleta, Providencia, and Independencia.
  • The company warns about the danger of these criminal acts: in 2022, seven people died while committing these crimes in its concession area.


Santiago, January 5, 2023 - The theft of electrical cables to extract copper is a criminal practice on the rise recently. In fact, during 2022, Enel Distribución recorded 759 cases within its concession area, representing an increase of 314% over the previous year, when it reported 242. Thus, 30,360 conductors were stolen between January and December, equivalent to more than 760 million pesos associated with replacement costs.

What are the consequences? These crimes cause supply failures, harming families affected by voltage variations, service interruptions, and electric shocks that put the technical personnel who keep the distribution networks and the perpetrators of these crimes at serious risk. In fact, in 2022, seven people died while committing these crimes, and one suffered a severe accident. The latter represents an increase compared to 2021, with two fatal accidents recorded within the company's concession area.

When this type of situation occurs, the safety protections of the network work automatically, cutting off the current immediately when this type of accident is detected. However, the high intensity of the electrical discharge often causes a fatal outcome for those who manipulate the network without knowledge or protection. It also affects supply continuity and stability where the crime occurs, damaging the quality of life of the neighbors and the community.

"We are concerned about the progressive increase in cable thefts. As a company, we cannot directly prevent these crimes. However, we do take actions to limit them, such as repairing, sealing, and changing camera covers and implementing access control systems to the vaults and permanent monitoring of our facilities, in addition to maintaining communication with different municipalities and the police. However, we believe there should be a specific law on cable theft that focuses on preventing the purchase and sale of copper from the theft and that takes care of the effects caused by this crime. We make a permanent call to the community to report these incidents", explained Víctor Tavera, general manager of Enel Distribución," said Víctor Tavera, general manager of Enel Distribución.

"Cable theft is a crime that has been increasing in the commune and, generally, in the Metropolitan Region. When it occurs, neighbors are seriously affected by the number of hours without electricity. We are especially concerned about hospitals, health centers, schools and commercial enterprises, and electro-dependent people. It is a problem that affects and deteriorates the neighborhood's daily life. When they see a suspicious situation, we want people to report it to our 1469 number, to the telephone number that Enel has provided for the community, or to 133 of the Carabineros, which is always a good way to inform", commented Gonzalo Durán, Mayor of Independencia.

The commune most affected by cable thefts in 2022 was Santiago, with 349 cases, followed by Recoleta (170), Providencia (102), and Independencia (83). As a result, the company estimates that the thefts of medium voltage cables damaged more than 170,000 customers. Likewise, the costs associated with attending to faults and replacing damaged electric lines between January and December amounted to around 769 million pesos, without considering the costs of affected appliances or household appliances.

Dissemination campaign

In addition to taking measures to protect its facilities, Enel Distribución periodically conducts campaigns through its digital communication channels and in the mass media to inform about the risks associated with cable theft. This crime endangers the lives of the people who commit it, the technicians who carry out maintenance, and the community using public spaces. Likewise, calls to anonymously report this criminal practice through the Call Center at 600 696 00 00.