NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Scrap metal thieves have jeopardized the safety of Orange & Rockland utility workers, authorities say.

On South Mountain Road in New City and in parts of Ramapo, someone snipped and stole the copper ground wires for 43 utility poles, police told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

The ground wires protect workers in cherry pickers, said Clarkstown police Officer Peter Walker.

“Now those electric wires at the top of the poles are no longer grounded and can seriously injure or kill the utilty worker,” Walker said. “So really this is a shameless act.”

There are dense woods along South Mountain Road, no shoulder and few places to park a vehicle. Authorities believe the theft had to be done in clear view of people driving by.

Police are looking for witnesses who might have spotted someone snooping around utility poles over the past few weeks.

It will cost more than $10,000 to replace the copper ground wires, Adams reported.