Stop Stealing Copper Wire People!

NBC4's Patrick Healy recently reported that there has been a huge surge in the theft of copper wiring from street lamps in Los Angeles this year, causing power outages and impacting public safety.

And with more than 210,000 street lights in the city, there are plenty of targets for thieves who want to make a quick buck.

According to L.A.'s Bureau of Street Lighting, from 2016-2017 there were 376 incidents of thieves stealing copper wire from street lamps. This year, they expect that number to triple, costing the city approximately $1 million to replace and repair.

No one's sure why there's been an increase recently. Ten years ago, an increase in the price of copper was blamed for a big spike copper theft, but it also led to stricter legislation that made it much more difficult for a thief to unload stolen copper. According to NBC4, recyclers buying copper now have to check IDs, not pay in cash and delay payments to new sellers for several days.

When thieves target street lamps for the copper wire, those lights won't work, and there's a 2-4 week backlog to get them fixed, leaving patches of the city in the dark.

The Bureau of Street Lighting is trying to find ways to thwart the thieves, but have not come up with an effective way to prevent the thefts.

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