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Thief urinates on transformer, gets burns, jail

A copper thief is jailed for a year after he and an accomplice drain conductors at a sub-station of oil and he then urinates against the transformer, causing an explosion.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Copper theft has become something of sport of late. Even Facebook's new HQ endured a little.

However, sometimes the thieves aren't too sophisticated, which can lead to certain unforeseen problems.

A tale emerges from Leicester in the U.K., in which two copper thieves last year went to an electricity sub-station in order to steal copper cable from the sub-station's transformer.

The way the Leicester Mercury wraps it, Michael Harper, 36 and Richard Boyce, 50, went to the sub-station in order to steal the copper and, while they were at it, take some heroin.

It is unclear if they managed the latter before attempting the former. What is clear is that Boyce, apparently claiming electrical expertise, drained the oil inside the transformer's conductors.

Harper, though, might not have been such a bright spark, as he urinated against the transformer and, there was a mighty explosion. Oil is generally quite flammable, especially when it comes into contact with, say, sparks from a urinated-upon transformer.

He suffered extensive burns, such that a judge gave him only one year in jail for his part in the calamitous attempt at robbery. (About 2,000 homes and businesses were left without power after the explosion.)

However, Boyce got four years for his part (and two other robberies).

Perhaps the judge looked upon him less kindly because, while Harper was burning in agony on the ground, Boyce took the car keys from his pocket and drove off. Which would surely not have endeared him to the Thieves' Honor Society.

Sometimes, house burglary does seem like a safer option. Unless, of course, the homeowner is awake and has a gun.