Random hanging pairs of shoes on power lines has always been a source of confusion for me. I attempted to solve this mystery by calling the Sacramento Police Department, PG&E and SMUD.
According to Sgt. Darrell Martin, the hanging shoes are not a sign of gang activity, at least not from local gangs.
Brian Swanson, spokesperson for PG&E, told me that the hanging shoes could cause two major problems:
1. The shoes can weigh the wires down which can impact traffic. Tall trucks such as garbage trucks may snag the wires and cause power outages.
2. The shoes can also bring the two wires together which can short circuit the wires and cause damage to the electrical equipment on power poles, such as transformers and circuit breakers.
The worst case scenario, according to Swanson, would be if energized wires were brought to the ground because of the shoes.
Swanson advises that if anyone sees a safety issue — including a pair of hanging shoes that cause a wire to hang lower than normal or bring two wires together — they should report the problem to PG&E by calling 1-800-743-5000.
The SMUD representative could not be reached by the time the article went to press.
Does anyone else know the reasoning behind why people throw pairs of shoes on power lines? Has anyone done this personally? Can you refer me to anyone else who might know the answer to my longstanding question?