DTE reports stolen tools as crews restore power in metro Detroit

As they went to work Wednesday trying to get the lights on for the roughly 20,000 people still without power, crews working for DTE Energy faced a different problem -- people pilfering their power tools.

"It's tough to really understand why, especially when we're trying to restore people's power," said Sandeev Sarna, DTE Dir. of Service Center Operations.

Sunday's storms put nearly 400,000 people in the dark as roughly 1,600 crews from five states worked to restore power, but DTE says someone has been stealing from trucks.

"They stealing from people who work. They're working hard. I don't want anybody stealing from me -- I work hard," said Jordan David.

Sarna says around noon on Tuesday, a lineman noticed his truck parked on Evergreen in Detroit had equipment missing and two hours later, another crew member noticed tools missing from their truck parked on Livernois. The bin doors were left open.

They took expensive items, including a gas-powered drill used to drill deep holes into the top of poles. Sarna says some tools can cost between $1,000-2,000.

Sarna says most of the tools are stored in bins on what are called bucket trucks and workers are constantly opening and closing them.

"In many cases we can't get our trucks in behind the houses or in tight alleys so we tend to park our trucks out on the road and carry the equipment back to the job site," he said.

In both cases, Sarna says the crews had been working in backyards with their trucks parked out front. A similar gray van was seen in both thefts.

"We think it could've been the same van just strolling around."

Sarna says DTE can't do a whole lot differently to prevent the theft besides work with police and increase its security patrols. They're asking for neighbors to keep a watchful eye.