In August 2019, police began receiving reports of thefts of copper wire from Nova Scotia Power (NSP) substations in Pictou County. During the time between October 2019 to February 2020, police responded to calls of break and enters into NSP substations continued with additional incidents outside Pictou County including Windsor, Fort Ellis, Lunenburg, and Port Hawkesbury. Investigators from the Pictou County Integrated Street Crime Enforcement Unit (SCEU) looked into the matter.
A detailed investigation identified Jonathan Buell and Miranda Sprague, both of Stellarton, as suspects for some of these incidents. Police also determined that Sprague was the owner of a grey 2006 Chevrolet Equinox, and that Buell and Sprague were frequently associated to that vehicle.
On February 22, just after 6 p.m., police followed the suspects from Stellarton to Cape Breton, stopping in Aberdeen on Hwy. 105. Police went to the substation, and arrested Jonathan Buell and Miranda Sprague. Buell was inside the fenced area, and was standing near live NSP equipment. He had break-in tools and evidence of copper wire thefts with him. Sprague was arrested outside the fenced-in area. Police also seized Sprague’s Equinox which was parked nearby.
Jonathan Buell has been charged with Possession of Break-In Instruments, Break, Enter and Commit an Indictable Offence, and Possession of Stolen Property. Miranda Sprague has been charged with Break, Enter, and Commit an Indictable Offence and Possession of Stolen Property. Both were held in custody and appeared in Port Hawkesbury Provincial Court On February 25. They were released and are scheduled to return to court on March 30.
Paul Casey, Nova Scotia Power Vice President of Transmission, Distribution and Delivery, says a significant amount of live wire has been stolen from electrical equipment, at great risk to both personal and public safety.
“Live wire can carry more than 25,000 volts of electricity so there is a very high risk of electrocution,” said Casey. “A charge from that wire would be life threatening or fatal for anyone in the vicinity and can cause significant damage to our equipment. Not to mention, removing the wire can generate an unstable electrical current for nearby customers and create dangerous working conditions for our crews.”T