Residents express frustration over copper theft

FRESNO, Calif.

The city has released updated numbers on the financial impact of copper wire theft.

$75,000 a month, in tax payer money, is being spent trying to repair city street lights. Nearly 10-percent of Fresno owned street lights are dark, most of them because of copper thieves.

Fresno City Councilman Andreas Borgeous held the meeting at Bullard High School.

He said since 2009 copper theft, just from street lights, has gone up more than 67-percent. The city said there is an 8-month waiting list to get darkened street lights working again. But people Action News talked with have been waiting in the dark for about a year.

"The city can't do it," said Anahid Torossian. "But we have to be patient, but we're waiting a long time."

"That is very sad, it really is," said Barbara Salazar. "I'm just surprised that they haven't come up with a solution. That's a lot of copper being stolen and it's dangerous."

So far about 10-percent of city street lights have been retrofitted with cement casings to seal off electrical boxes and deter criminals. The city said it could retrofit each light, to prevent theft.

Problem is finding funding. That project would run over $700,000 at a minimum.

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