Corona, CA: $1,000 Reward Offered If You Help City To The North

A band of copper thieves has caused menace in Corona, so the city is offering a $1,000 reward for info that will lead to arrests.

A $1,000 reward was posted by the city of Corona today for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for a spate of thefts targeting wiring for street lights.

Copper wire thieves have struck a number of times in the city over the past few years, but officials issued their first public notice about the street light activity in October.

According to police and the Department of Public Works, thieves have gone into residential areas and torn out wiring from underground utility boxes.

"In many cases, these suspects leave exposed electrical wire in their wake, which presents the obvious potential for injury to anyone who comes into contact with it," according to a city statement. "This crime can also result in power and utility outages, leaving neighborhoods and thoroughfares in the dark."

The total cost of repairing the damage was not immediately available.

In 2007 and 2008, thieves ripped out wiring to conduits for lights at Mountain Gate and Santana Regional parks in Corona, resulting in repair bills in excess of $50,000.

According to the city, the thieves chop up the wiring and selling it to recycling centers. Metal thieves have targeted irrigation pumps, electrical pull-boxes, air conditioning units, fire hydrants, manhole covers and a variety of outdoor communications equipment throughout Riverside County over the past decade as commodities prices have risen.

According to a county task force report released in 2007, most of the stolen property is redeemed at recyclers for quick cash, usually to buy drugs.

Corona officials said police are actively investigating the most recent copper thefts, but public assistance is needed to deter and stop them.

Officials asked residents to report suspicious activity, keeping the following tips in mind:

-- city maintenance crews only work on lights between 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.;

-- maintenance workers are always in uniform and drive marked vehicles; and

-- criminals often scout their targets, so unfamiliar persons and cars cruising streets with rows of street lights could be a clue to criminal activity, and police should be notified.

Anyone with information was urged to call the police department at (951) 736- 2333.

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