The theft of copper wiring from buildings, streets and other facilities has become a crime of choice among thieves selling it to junk dealers.
In Hercules, the trend has proved costly and it poses dangers to residents, according to a city official.
A recent theft occurred sometime in the past week, at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Santa Fe. The theft deprived power to street lights and disabled the sprinkler system at a corner park.
Other thefts have taken place at Sycamore Avenue and Palm, San Pablo Avenue, John Muir Parkway and Refugio Valley Road.
The city has spent about $40,000 replacing the damage, said Hercules Municipal Services Director John McGuire.
"The costs for replacement are very high but there is also the safety of our citizens that is of concern," McGuire said.
As Patch , repair and replacement can take weeks but the city must solicit bids for contractors to do the work. City officials ask residents to report outages and any people loitering at night. Typically, thieves break into junction boxes on sidewalks to cut the wires, then pull them out from light pole to light pole.
"The City hopes, and this would apply to Pinole also, that citizens will report sudden streetlight outages right away," McGuire said. "These outages usually occur very quickly and involve a bank of lights rather than a light here or there. Citizens should also be on the lookout for suspicious persons loitering about in the dark on main streets where you would not normally expect to see them due to darkness or time of night. Many times they cut the wire in the junction boxes first and then return at a later time when they think it is safe to come back and pull the wire out of the conduits.
"If citizens report the streetlight outages or suspicious activity we may be able to go back and secure the boxes and wiring before the thieves return for it."
The phone number for the Hercules Police Department is 510 724-1111.
The following is an entry in the Hercules Police Department from last week about a copper theft:
On August 23, 2012 at 12:15 a.m. an officer noticed 4 street lights were out in the area of Sycamore Avenue at Palm Avenue. Exposed wires were found to have been tampered with and the copper wire cut/stolen from one of the two lights poles on the center island along Sycamore Avenue. The theft occurred sometime in the previous hour.
Have you experienced copper theft or noticed street light outages in your neighborhood? Share your experience in the comments below.