A bizarre crime that claimed the life of an unidentified man who was apparently trying to steal electrical equipment from transmission towers east of Tijuana left the 65,000 residents of Tecate without power for more than 24 hours, the state-run federal electricity commission reports.
As of 7 a.m. Sunday, March 10, power had been restored to about 85 percent of the town, according to the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad). The widespread outage began at about 7:30 p.m. on March 8, in a blackout the Tijuana daily El Mexicano described as unlike any in the history of the city.
Work crews investigating the power failure determined that it was caused when two transmission towers fell to the ground, taking with them a 69,000-volt cable between Tijuana and Tecate, a statement issued by the CFE said.
In the immediate vicinity of the fallen towers and power line, authorities discovered the lifeless body of a man believed to be implicated in the incident. According to the CFE, he and any others who may have been involved did so presumably with the intention of stealing electrical material from the sub-transmission towers.
The power company reported the event to law-enforcement authorities for a criminal investigation.
According to various press accounts, the blackout also affected some telephone service, left residents who depend on electric pumps without water, interrupted cable television, shut down gas pumps at service stations, and made it impossible for local radio stations to transmit programs.
El Mexicano reported "panic buying” across the city. Police said they increased patrols in the affected areas to maintain calm.
In addition to Tecate, other areas without power included La Rumorosa, Jacumbé, and Mi Ranchito. El Sol de Tijuana reported that, altogether, about 150,000 families were affected.