Copper wire thieves hit new meter lights on Hwy 41

FRESNO, Calif.

Caltrans spokesperson Gloria Rodriguez said, "The way all the wires are integrated together if one junction box is compromised then the whole system shuts down."

The system was turned on less than two week ago. But Rodriguez says thieves ripped out the copper wire from these signals sometime this weekend. This is the fourth time burglars have shut down the meters.

Rodriguez says the boxes are designed for workers to open them quickly, but criminals are now taking advantage of that easy access. The California Highway Patrol is working to find those responsible.

"It's very difficult to do follow up on these types of crimes," Sgt. Kevin Acosta said. "The wire itself if it's not marked it's very tough to track a lot of the recyclers don't really have a way of identifying this stolen material and notifying law enforcement."

CHP says there's been a recent spike in stealing along Valley highways.

"Anything that has some type of marketable value, batteries from the message boards that you see when you're traveling up the road," Sgt. Kevin Acosta. "Those have been stolen, any type of landscaping materials are being stolen."

Caltrans is now rewiring those boxes with aluminum wire which is less expensive than copper.

Anyone who sees anything suspicious is asked to call the California Highway Patrol.

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