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Anaheim sees spike in alarming trend: thieves smashing streetlights to steal copper wire

By David González

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    ANAHEIM, California (KABC) — Utility crews in Anaheim are working to fix dozens of streetlights that were recently targeted by thieves.

“We’re seeing this all across Anaheim,” said city spokesperson Erin Ryan.

More than 60 streetlights have been vandalized since the beginning of the year, according to Ryan, and the criminals seem to be searching for one thing.

“We have seen an increase of people breaking into the light boxes and stealing the wires, or cutting the wires, to see if it has the copper wire, which is what they’re really after,” Ryan said.

Anaheim Police Sgt. Jon McClintock said investigators have recently seen an uptick in copper thefts targeting utility poles.

“Any time a streetlight is out, it becomes darker. Well-lit areas are less prone for crime and traffic issues to occur,” he said.

McClintock doesn’t know what’s causing the spike but adds the problem is not unique to the city of Anaheim.

“We’ll work with local recyclers to figure out if there’s any trends in the recycling, because that’s really what happens is the copper theft occurs and that copper is recycled or resold,” McClintock said.

Ryan said the city is being proactive to prevent any future thefts.

“Our long term fix, and as we replace the wires in these lights, we’re not using copper wire,” she said. “We’re replacing it with aluminum wire, or wire that’s just not lucrative. We’re also replacing the lid, making it tamper-proof.”

Ryan said crews are working as fast as they can to make repairs but some may take up to a few weeks. The city of Anaheim says its number one priority is making sure residents stay safe. Crews are also putting up temporary solar lights until the affected lights are fixed.

People who see anything suspicious are urged to call Anaheim police immediately at 714-765-1900.

Residents can report streetlight issues through Anaheim Anytime.

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