"We can't keep wire in the ground to save our lives"
The new normal in the USA.
A country eating itself alive, consuming any and all public and private
Will the last american to flush themselves down the toilet steal the
toilet while they're at it...
You've become a god damn joke of a country.
Apr 2, 6:42 PM EDT
Thieves take record amount of copper in Utah heist
By Home Guy
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The biggest copper heist in Utah memory has
stripped more than six miles of wire from a stretch of Salt Lake City
The Utah Department of Transportation first noticed the theft Thursday,
officials said, but they don't know when exactly thieves snatched up the
wire. The thieves either disguised themselves as a construction crew or
worked in the middle of the night on multiple occasions to yank wire
from the median of Interstate 15, said roadway lighting engineer Richard
"We can't keep wire in the ground to save our lives," he said,
estimating that the department deals with smaller-scale thefts nearly
every week. Thieves take the wire to recyclers who will pay for metal by
Officials are shocked, they say, to see a theft this big pulled off on a
relatively urban and highly traveled stretch of road. Billboards dot the
side of the six-lane highway that's lined with warehouses, sandy dirt
and red rock.
"To say the least, this was an extremely risky operation that they
pulled off here," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason, adding, "This is by
far the largest single copper wire theft we've dealt with here in Utah."
The department doesn't know exactly when the theft happened because many
highway lights all over the Wasatch Valley haven't been working. Routine
road maintenance in the area is falling to the wayside as workers
grapple to replace the missing wire and broken metal boxes.
The thieves likely used sledgehammers to smash into boxes of wires
running to light poles, clipped the copper and then used cars or trucks
to pull 30,000 to 35,000 feet of wire out of the ground, authorities
said. The scale of the heist, they said, indicates that the thieves had
sophisticated electrical know-how.
They snuffed out almost a dozen light poles along a mile of highway
between 1000 North and 1800 North, toward the outer limits of Salt Lake
City. The missing coiled wire will cost between $50,000 and $60,000 to
replace, officials say.
UDOT spends $300,000 to $400,000 a year to replace stolen copper,
officials said. To combat the thefts, the department is considering
replacing the copper wire with aluminum wire, which proves less
lucrative at recycling sites. But aluminum tends to short out more
easily. Engineers are also working on a plan to bury light boxes along
the road underground to make them harder to find.
A few years ago, "when the recession hit, it got really bad," Hibbard
said, adding that the rate of thefts seemed to climb alongside
With other similar cases in Utah, officials sometimes find car or
bicycle tire tracks. That was the case for one recent, smaller theft
about a mile south of this one.
But the department has not found such signs in this heist, said Hibbard,
the lighting engineer.
"The most evidence I've seen is those beer bottles over there," he said,
adding, "That's the curiosity. It seems impossible that someone didn't
see something and say something."
At trade-in sites, it's hard for workers to distinguish thieves from
electricians. Wire from highway lighting looks pretty much the same as
demolition scrap, said Mark Lewon, president of Utah Metal Works in Salt
Lake City. Electricians, he said, routinely turn in up to a few thousand
pounds of copper wire.
"Unless they're wearing a sign that says they're a thief," Lewon said,
there's no way to tell if the metal is stolen.
In total, the wire stolen in this heist could return between $5,200 and
$9,000, according to rates offered by Lewon.
Nationwide, police report a strong link between rates of crystal
methamphetamine use and theft of the wire, according to a 2010 study by
the U.S. Department of Energy. Replacing the wire typically costs three
times the value that thieves get for it, that same study shows.
Brett Brenner, president of the nonprofit, safety-focused Electrical
Safety Foundation, said thieves are putting themselves and others in
danger by stealing wire.
"They're messing with some pretty sophisticated electronics most of the
time," Brenner said.
The theft, he said, results in problems that can hurt and kill work
crews that go out to fix the wire. And it throws off electricity grids,
he said, sometimes robbing homes and hospitals of power for days.
In Montana and neighboring Idaho, police have taken measures against
copper theft such as embedding GPS devices in the wire and using them to
track down thieves.