The City of Tacoma is asking residents for help to curb an ongoing and expensive rash of streetlight copper wire thefts.
Last year, 67 incidents of streetlight copper wire thefts were reported citywide, according to officials at Tacoma City Hall. So far this year, 24 incidents of theft have been reported. With more than 30,000 streetlight and junction boxes, Tacoma staff say they need residents to be watchful and learn to recognize and report the crime.
“Many times, the crime happens in broad daylight,” says Tacoma Police Department Detective Burt Hayes. “A thief may drop something, such as a bicycle or construction cones, over a junction box to hide their activity. The criminal may cut the wires to break electrification during the day to ensure darkness, and then return to steal the wire later, either by hand or by pulling it out with vehicle or bicycle and stuffing it in a backpack.”
Hayes adds that criminals may use official-looking white vans and orange construction vests to avoid suspicion. Legitimate streetlight crews will generally be in large bucket-trucks, marked with official City of Tacoma or Tacoma Public Utilities logos.
Residents who see a theft in progress should call 911; a visual description can be very helpful.
More information is available online at cityoftacoma.org/wiretheft.
To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of streetlight copper wire thefts, click on the following links:
- Tacoma City Council to discuss feather signs, TPU Web site upgrade (Tacoma Daily Index, December 2, 2013)
- Murray Morgan Bridge will soon close to pedestrians (Tacoma Daily Index, January 3, 2011)
- Wire thieves, vandals hit historic Murray Morgan Bridge (Tacoma Daily Index, December 15, 2010)
- Wire thieves strike Metro Parks facility (Tacoma Daily Index, October 15, 2010)
- WSDOT: Wire thieves hit State Route 16 again (Tacoma Daily Index, November 29, 2007)
- Thieves darken Tacoma Freeway (Tacoma Daily Index, November 26, 2007)
- Thieves cut traffic signal wires at Bridgeport Way off-ramp (Tacoma Daily Index, November 14, 2007)