Scientific article

Electrical injuries due to theft of copper

Published inJournal of burn care & research, vol. 31, no. 2, p. 341-346
Publication date2010

This study shows that the theft of copper, mainly from electrical wires, is becoming a more frequent crime as the value of this metal rises. We have collected all the data from the Burn Centre of the Hospital of Palermo, Italy, from 1992 to 2007. Over the last two decades, we assisted to a dramatic increase of patients admitted to our hospital, reporting burn injuries while attempting to steal it in dangerous conditions. The circumstances of the injury, the clinical management of the case, and the long-term consequences are presented and discussed. We found that the electrical burn related to the theft of copper is often a life-threatening event because of the high-voltage electrical current passing through the patients. Patients, due to the type of activity, often requiring physical effort, were generally young and healthy. From a review of the literature on the subject, we have noticed that theft of copper is not reported as an important risk factor for electrical burns. Our report clearly shows that theft of copper-related electrical injury is becoming more frequent in the community and should be added as a "new" risk factor. The already high incidence reported here may actually be lower than the actual incidence because many patients tend not to come to the hospital because of the risk of being prosecuted by the police.

  • Adult
  • Burns, Electric/epidemiology/ etiology/therapy
  • Copper
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy/epidemiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Theft
Citation (ISO format)
CURINGA, Giuseppe et al. Electrical injuries due to theft of copper. In: Journal of burn care & research, 2010, vol. 31, n° 2, p. 341–346. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181d0f50d
Main files (1)
ISSN of the journal1559-047X

Technical informations

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