Corona, CA: Stealing Copper Wire is a Crime

The City of Corona Public Works and Police Departments ask residents to report suspected theft of copper wire.

At isolated sites in Corona, late at night and in the early morning hours, thieves are stealing underground wire between streetlights. After cutting the stolen wire into small pieces to resemble "scrap metal", the thieves take it to recycling centers for quick cash; thus making the copper stealing business a profitable crime. The rising value of copper has stimulated this criminal activity.

The skill level of these thieves may be somewhat sophisticated, because stealing cooper wiring from street lights is not easy, and it is a very dangerous process. In order to access the wire, thieves are required to break into the utility boxes. While performing this dangerous act they are confronted with the possibility of being caught and/or electrocuted.

Stealing copper wire is a crime and very costly for the City, but the bigger issue is public safety. Tampering with wires can cause serious harm, bodily injury or death. Copper wire theft can also result in power and utility outages contributing to decreased public safety when neighborhoods and thoroughfares are left in the dark. Like many agencies throughout the country, the City of Corona Public Works Operations Division has spent a considerable amount of public resources to combat copper wire theft from streetlights. Some of the crime prevention efforts implemented by the City of Corona include:

Notifying and monitoring recycling centers for suspicious copper wire transactions

Police patrolling target areas

Advising citizens that routine streetlight maintenance occurs from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm by City of Corona crews in clearly marked vehicles

Urging customer to contact authorities if they see anyone lingering near electrical equipment

Kip Field, Public Works Director, is urging all residents to report any suspicious activity near electrical equipment or streetlight poles. "If residents or business owners see anyone removing wires from equipment, and they aren't using official City vehicles, they should call the Police Department," says Field. "We believe it is better to err on the side of caution and report a possible crime so the matter will be investigated," added Field.

If residents or business owners observe any of the following signs of possible missing copper wire, please call the Police Department's non-emergency line at (951) 736-2333:

A number of street lights are out in a row

The concrete service box lids at or near each light pole are missing, open or broken

If suspicious individuals are standing next to street lights during the day or at night

If tools or equipment are left near the street lights

If you notice large amounts of copper wire being taken into a recycling center

Police encourage constituents to write down license plate numbers, description of vehicles and/or suspicious persons, involved with the removing of streetlight wire, and call (951) 736-2333. If one suspects a crime is in progress they can also call 911.

Having the support of the residents and business persons will help maintain public safety and the resources needed to continue providing the best services to our community.

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