Copper theft is costing tax payers and businesses millions of dollars per year.
Copper theft has become such an issue that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning stating that copper theft is a threat to critical homeland infrastructure. Also, in a 2009 survey published by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, utilities in the United States reported approximately $60 million in losses and 450,000 minutes of outage time annually because of copper theft.
According to the Department of Energy, the cost to repair damage from copper theft is usually much greats than the value of copper. Lacy Love of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says several states are asking for public help, urging motorists to report suspicious activity. Cities across the country are looking for cost effective solutions to this expensive and frustrating problem. The Copper Lock Door offers protection from copper theft with a very small investment compared to the cost of repairing and replacing copper.
Tulsa has lost nearly $200,000 this year to copper thieves who are stealing wiring that connects street lights along some of the city’s busiest highways, officials with the Streets and Stormwater Department told city councilors on Thursday.
Terry Ball, director of the department, said 29 miles of copper wiring has been lost this year, and the amount budgeted for repairs falls about $120,000 short of the total — $191,900.
An estimated 175 areas throughout the city, ranging from one to several blocks, are without street lights due to copper wire thefts. We currently have a four to six month backlog of lights that need repair, even with an increase in City and contracted crews working seven days a week. In 4 years the city of Sacramento has had 21,960 reports of theft from street lights with a reported repair cost of just under $2,000,000.
In Kentucky, copper thieves have left about 450 highway lights dark in the Lexington area, many of them located at ramps for Interstates 64 and 75. Damage could total $500,000. “These copper thieves are victimizing Kentucky taxpayers … taking hard-earned money out of their pockets in the form of costly damages and making it difficult to navigate some heavily traveled roadways and interchanges at night,” state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says.
Hawaii will spend more than $3 million next year to repair lights on the H-1 and H-2 freeways that have been dark for several years. The state had replaced wiring in those lights, but it was promptly stolen again, says Dan Meisenzahl, a state transportation department spokesman.
Colorado Springs, CO
Police in Colorado Springs are investigating the 4 a.m. crash of a milk tanker that overturned on a stretch of Interstate 25 that was darkened because copper wiring had been stolen from streetlights. The truck driver was critically injured, and police are looking into whether darkness was a factor.
In Vallejo, Calif., thieves stripped copper wiring from nearly 80 streetlights and from traffic lights at five intersections. The city couldn’t afford to replace some of the wiring, and some intersections were turned into four-way stops; the city posted signs warning: “Signal Lights Are Non-Functioning Due To Copper Wire Theft.”