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#70093 - 09/29/06 05:21 PM Lights catch eye of copper thieves
Lostazhell Offline

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1248
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
More than 40 miles of copper wire have been stolen from city streetlights in the past few months, costing taxpayers nearly a quarter million dollars.

Thursday, Fresno city officials asked the public to help stop the thieves by calling 911 if they see any suspicious activity or witness a theft in progress.

"We take this crime very seriously," Fresno police Capt. Keith Foster said at a news conference Thursday in northwest Fresno.

Officials said the city started noticing an increase in the problem in the spring when copper wire prices began to soar.

Dave Row, a streets supervisor with the public works department, said copper is currently selling for $3 to $4 a pound.

City Engineer Mike Kirn said the amount of copper stolen between two streetlights can easily weigh in at 60 to 80 pounds.

So far about 750 streetlights have been affected, said Amber Adams, streets manager for the city's public works department.

The wire is taken from underground electrical installations. Kirn said the thieves open a box at the base of a light pole, cut one end of the wire and pull.

The news conference was held at Figarden and Alva drives in northwest Fresno, which is Council Member Brian Calhoun's district, but officials said the thefts are occurring all over the city.

"This, however, is a significant area," Adams said, pointing to the row of streetlights that line both sides of Figarden Drive.

Calhoun said the thefts mean neighborhoods go dark and pose a concern for public safety. He also said the thefts have created a problem with the sprinkler system in his district, which provides water to the city's landscaping.

The system, he said, is linked to the same electrical wiring that feeds the streetlights.

Foster said the Police Department has made a number of arrests in connection with copper thefts and that investigators are working with the Fresno County Ag Task Force, which has seen an increase in copper thefts from farms.

He said officers are going undercover and following up on leads provided by local scrap metal business owners, where some of the stolen copper wire has been sold.

Foster said the increase in copper wire theft is a nationwide trend and many agencies are joining forces to try to get a better handle on the problem.

In an attempt to prevent some of the thefts, Row said, workers are retooling the electrical boxes with special locks and screws.

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#70094 - 09/29/06 05:56 PM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
BigJohn Offline

Registered: 03/06/04
Posts: 352
Loc: Boston, MA
Our job got hit last night. We got a shipment in, unloaded it into one of the sea-containers. Came in this morning to find the lock cut and all 30,000 feet of 12 and 14 stolen.

Of course someone on the job is involved in this thievery. We have three sea-containers and they knew exactly which one held the wire and which lock to cut.

The funny part? It must've been a sizable truck they used to steal it all, and they had to drive through a lived-in housing complex, but none of the residents thought it strange that a tractor-trailer should be hauling away wire at 3AM on a Friday morning.

Gotta love it.


#70095 - 09/29/06 06:37 PM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
SolarPowered Offline

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
... but none of the residents thought it strange that a tractor-trailer should be hauling away wire at 3AM on a Friday morning.

People wouldn't think it strange here, either, as the #@$^#$ garbage truck runs all over the place in the middle of the night on Friday picking up the garbage.

#70096 - 09/30/06 12:45 AM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
skipr Offline

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 41
Loc: Huntington Beach, Ca.
How can someone pull streetlighting wires, and not a one person noticed, we are talking about streets, where cars are always going by. You can't do it descretly.

#70097 - 09/30/06 05:08 AM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
luckyshadow Offline

Registered: 01/04/05
Posts: 305
Loc: Maryland USA
Last year here in Maryland they were stealing the aluminum street lights,poles and all, during the day !!
The city of Baltimore lost quite a few before it was brought under control. People who saw it happen said they thought the thieves worked for the city.
Most people are quite naive about what they are seeing.

#70098 - 09/30/06 08:03 AM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
mbhydro Offline

Registered: 02/21/03
Posts: 340
Loc: Winnipeg MB Canada
Spend $15.00 to buy a reflective vest and hard hat from the pawn shop and your in business.

Like Jim Rockford use to say in the Rockford Files on TV "if you look like you belong people wont question you".

Out here the utilities are contracting out their minor installation and repair work so you don't see as many marked utility trucks working next to the roadways.

#70099 - 09/30/06 08:13 AM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
Almost Fried Offline

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 104
Loc: Madison County, Ark. USA
I am a firm believer that the best deterrent to thefts from existing facilities is when the thieves, wearing thin tennis shoes on dew-wet grass, cut into a hot 277 V. circuit...

[This message has been edited by Almost Fried (edited 09-30-2006).]

#70100 - 09/30/06 10:36 AM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
mxslick Offline

Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 785
Loc: Atomic City, ID USA
Or better yet, let's go back to feeding streetlight circuits as a series 6.6 amp system!!

(For those who don't know, that system worked by supplying a constant current to each loop, 6.6 amps, and the regulator would vary the voltage to maintain that current. If the circuit was opened while powered up, the regulator would raise the voltage to full value, usually around 2400 volts. This would draw a very impressive and dangerous arc.)

A few of those being cut and natural selection would solve the problem!
Stupid should be painful.

#70101 - 09/30/06 12:59 PM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Man, is all this wire theft getting out of hand or what??.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#70102 - 09/30/06 05:54 PM Re: Lights catch eye of copper thieves
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 176
Loc: McKeesport, PA, USA
I had a few old radiators I left out in my fenced yard for the scrap guy to pick them up a few days later. I also had a rusty can of copper spray paint that I needed to throw away, and my city's trash company has a regulation that we can only recycle empty spray paint cans, so I decided out of boredom to paint the radiators. Well, the next morning, before sunrise, 2 guys came into my FENCED yard and took the radiators. I caught it on tape, and I alerted the police (I didn't care about the radiators because they were trash, but I was quite angry that they were trespassing. I told the cops I didn't wanna press charges, but here's 2 possible copper thieves.

About a month later, one of the guys was caught stealing a copper fountain from a junk yard when he tried to sell it back to the same junk yard. They also found crack on him. From what I heard from my friend who is a cop, he ratted out his partner. They got a warrent and searched the guy's house, and they found lots of copper, aluminum, and steel products. They also found crack and meth at his house. He also had a pole pig that had gone "missing"... the cops are still not sure how he pulled that one off.

I got my radiators back, and gave them to the neighborhood scrap guy. He is an honest guy who makes a few bucks hauling away old appliances free of charge, pays to get fridges drained of freon, and scraps pretty much every material from them. I'd rather he get them and me not have to pay to have them hauled away rather than stoners getting more drug money.

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