Officers say his motive was to steal copper wiring.
It didn't work - deputies say he died trying.
Police found the man's body outside this substation here in Eden, North Carolina, across the state line from Pittsylvania County.
The sheriff of this area says copper theft is a growing trend, especially in the last two month.
A power company in Southern Virginia says it has the answer to stop copper thefts.
Danville Utilities has a wire that could put copper thieves out of business.It's Proof Positive Copper wiring, made to look similar to the product the company already uses but is labeled and easily tracked. And the big difference is on the inside.
"The inside strand actually has a laser printed identification number that's actually exclusive to us," said Nathan Lewis.
That code can be entered into a website printed on the wire by police or scrap metal yards and tracked to the owner.
A tin-coated copper strand is the only visual clue on the outside.
"A copper thief might get three dollars a pound or so for every pound of copper they take to the metal recyclers to recycle. But the repair costs for us are 10 to 20 times that or even more," Lewis said.
It's hurt the company.
Since the price of copper increased, Danville Utilities has lost income paying crews to replace the wire and restore power.
The company will use the new wire with new power projects or replace faulty or stolen copper to stop thieves and save lives.