Colton Police have seen a number of copper thefts in recent months, especially with the rising price of the metal.
Colton Police say the teen touched off a power surge after coming into contact with a live wire.
A police officer patrolling the area was the first to notice something wrong.
"He noticed that the power was out in the area," said Colton Police Lt. Chuck deDianous.
The teen's body was discovered behind a vacant building near La Cadena Drive and Valley Boulevard after someone called police. Investigators later determined the teen had broken into a electrical box just before he was killed.
"It appears that he didn't get very far. He probably touched something he shouldn't have touched and it caused him to be electrocuted," said deDianous.
Copper has been selling for between $3 and $3.75 per pound. That has ignited an increase in thefts of the metal. Police say everything from street lamps to air conditioners are being targeted by thieves who are putting themselves at risk.
Last October, another man was killed and his wife was injured in South Gate after allegedly attempting to steal cooper from an electrical vault.
"It could possibly be economy-driven. People are out of jobs and they're just looking for ways to make money," said deDianous.
By Thursday afternoon, most of the electricity to the area impacted by the outage had been restored and a new lock was installed on the electrical box.
Colton Police say they are working with local recyclers in order to curb the number of copper thefts in the community.