Sacramento Tries New Ideas to Stop Copper Thieves

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The city of Sacramento is rolling out a new plan to combat rampant copper wire thefts throughout the city.

Thieves pull up electrical boxes and within a quick moment, they snip the wire and are off with valuable copper they can sell to the recycle yard.

“When it’s $3.50 a pound—they’re getting 250-foot runs of wire, sometimes three or four five strands of wire in one conduit, it weighs a lot,” said Norm Colby with public works.

New developments are hit the hardest, because the wire is in great shape, and with plenty of open empty plots, west Natomas has been at the epicenter of the thefts.

In the last three years, the city of Sacramento has had to replace enough copper to power 20,000 streetlights—which means there was a theft of the copper wire every two to three days on average, totalling $1.68 million.

“I’ve worked many cases, and it’s frustrating not knowing where the wire came from,” said Sacramento Police officer Ken Leonard.

But that is changing. To slow down the thieves, the city is making it harder to get to the wire.

New security lids will hopefully make it harder for thieves to get in. But if they do, the copper wire is now going to be stamped with the city’s name on the plastic coating—a first for a major city in the U.S.

“Now we have a clear identification of a crime victim, which in the past has stymied our prosecution,” said deputy district attorney Steve harold.

With 24 felony convictions last year, the district attorney’s office says they will likely be able to add to that number with the new stamping program.

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