Sugar Pine Trail lights out

FRESNO, Calif.

The dark area runs along Shepherd Avenue between Maple and Willow. "I don't like it. I can't run in the evening when it's cooler and it's just dangerous," said jogger Lisa Booth.

Booth says the lights have been about for about two months now, and she's noticed a definite change in her neighborhooed. "I hardly see anyone out at night anymore."

Fresno's Public Works director said it's impossible to know the cause of the outage until a repair crew is at the scene. But City Councilmember Lee Brand is confident copper thieves are to blame. "Anytime you see a stretch of 3 or 4 or 5 more poles that are out, I can almost guarantee it's copper wire, because the way they do it they go to ground pull boxes, clip them, they come at night and they pull the entire string. They can go 3 or 400 linear feet at a time."

The thieves have knocked out more than 4,000 lights across Fresno. Brand says that's why he wants the city to use money it's set to receive from a legal settlement to seal off access boxes with cement. "There's an initial installment of roughly $232,000 that on Thursday I'm going to ask the council to vote to earmark this money for streetlight preventative care."

That could keep copper theives from causing more problems, but for now the Public Works Department says repairing these lights along the Sugar Pine Trail is not a top priority because traffic signals must be fixed first.

Booth says until there's a permanent solution, there's really no reason to repair these lights right now. "I don't see the point of putting it in, they're just going to rip it right back out again."

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