Copper Thieves Leave I-95 In Palm Beach Co. In The Dark

WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) – The next time you drive on I-95 and notice a street light is out you may have just witnessed the scene of a crime. It’s a crime that is making driving more dangerous.

Thieves are breaking into the bases of light poles along I-95 in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, trying to get at the valuable copper inside.

“They’re definitely doing it to sell the wire and make a profit and it’s unfortunate because it is causing a safety issue on the highways,” said Meredith Cruz with the Florida Department of Transportation.

In the last 4 to 6 months thieves have stolen copper wire from 100 lights in Palm Beach County, leaving drivers in the dark for 33 miles.

In all they took more than 175 thousand feet of copper wiring.

Miami-Dade has also been targeted. In the last year alone, 30 lights on the stretch of I-95 between NW30th and 79th streets have been vandalized for copper. So who pays the hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair the streetlights? You, the taxpayer.

Derek Lawson is a licensed electrician and knows how difficult it would be to take wiring out of a light pole. Lawson also knows how risky it is.

“Very dangerous, you can lose your life.  One hit, you won’t hear a noise, you won’t hear anything, it’s over, good night, that’s it,” he told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

Tuesday morning in Palm Beach, a Hialeah-based company will begin installing anti-theft devices on the light poles that were targeted. Next week another company will start replacing the wiring. The Florida Highway Patrol is asking for your help, if you see a driver stopped near a light pole on I-95 give them a call right away so they can check it out.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has set up a website where law enforcement authorities in the United States and Canada can report thefts. The information is relayed to recycling plants within 100 miles of the incident.

More from Natalia Zea
  • Archer

    How’s the ‘Hope and Change”™ working out there?

    • Jane Louise Smith

      To be honest, there have always been thefts of cooper-laden equipment throughout our history. It’s just more widely announced now, just like the platinum thieves who are stealing catalytic converters who then sell the platinum contents of those converters at the current price of 1800/oz.

      • smashicus

        Ridiculous! There is no doubt that this form of thievery has escalated.

    • joe

      Obama will just pay for the copper and installation and repair. New spending and stimulus.

      • Eric Swinson

        Obama pays? Really? This is a local government problem. I suggest you take a civics course as a refresher.

  • ed

    they have to sell this stuff somewhere posting cops outside metal recyclers might nabsome of these guys, but thars just a thought

    • mark

      that would make to much sense for this stupid government

    • Mike In Jax

      So, now taxpayers need to pay for Police officers to post gaurd at a recylcle plant??? Are you seriously suggesting that? I suggest putting the responsibilty on the recycle company itself, and make the consequences for getting caught with stolen material at these plants heavy and costly. Do surprise inspections on and ongoing basis. The recycle companies should come up with a standard of reciept of goods turned in and require a recipt of release from whatever company if the material being turned in is a quantity set by the recycling conpany that would raise suspicions. That way when someone comes in with several bundles of what looks like new copper wire to get recycled, the recycler can at least get information on file of who, what material and when it was brought in. Of course this is just a thought, I am sure that my thought has holes and caveats that would need to be fixed, my whole poiint being though to put the responsibilty on the recycle companies and not on the taxpayers that are already getting ripped off by the thieves who steal the material in the first place.

      • Karl Menger

        Mike in Jax, you might want to rethink that.
        Who’s going to inspect the recycling places? Hmm…
        The Government? The Police?
        Still have to use tax-payers money to do inspections.

  • maryJo

    Odumba & BiteMe: ‘Recovery Summer*’

    (*need to recover the metal stolen over the summer)

  • Rob

    Dam I remember obama saying it was going to be rainbows and puppy dogs once he was elected and that he would fix everything LOL What a joke he turned out to be.
    And now they are stripping the country of copper wire to sell to put food on their tables, yea he did a great job if destroying the American economy was the plan after all.

    • JasonA

      …technically speaking, the destruction of a nation is indeed CHANGE.

  • Common Sense

    Don’t cars in Florida have headlights? Or is it just that the liberals down there are too stupid to turn them on?

    Never mind, I answered my own question didn’t I.

    • Don't Talk When You're Teabagging

      Your ID “Common Sense” is an oxymoron. Emphasis on MORON

      • Eric Swinson

        it is spot on. The most common level of intelligence appears to be stupidity.

    • TeaBag in Your Mouth

      Henry Ford was a democrat…. nuff said.

      • Jane Louise Smith

        And Daimler & Benz were National Socialists. What you’re point?

      • Liberty Jane

        He was a democrat as indicated by his rabid racism.

    • SockRayBlue

      Florida is “God’s Waiting Room”. The majority of those old folks are formal government employees such as teachers, public health workers, firemen, cops and just about any northeast public employee and they are mostly known for being very aggressive drivers and quite mean. That is also the first state to have a concealed carry law—I don’t know if that was to protect the oldsters or the ones left with functioning brains.

    • Jadr

      What is funny is that you probably think you are really witty.

  • Darrel

    Time for a death penalty law for metal theives, with death in the electric chair to those convicted.

    • Rick

      No its a raising in lawlessness in a society who puts more value in monetary things then in personnel integrity. So what if cooper was $1 a pound instead of $4.
      You think they wouldn’t be stealing it.
      They only get $175,000 instead of $700,000? You got your priorities messed son.

    • Vince

      They will steal the wire running to the spark chair too!

  • Jones

    No, actually it’s a result of the rising cost of copper, which makes it more attractive to thieves

  • Montford John Greenwood

    Oh, I can just see how this investigation is going to go.

    Cop1) We gotta catch these copper thieves this is getting bad.

    Cop2) Nope, we have a worser crime rookie. Duh, dem kids is selling lemonade. We better go arrest them, duh boss says the scourge of lemonade stands has gotsta stop.

    Cop1) But, the copper thieves?

    Cop2) Look, here you dumb rookie, THE Janet Neapolitan says dem kids don’t get health and safety inspections on their savory treats.

    Cop1) There has been lemonade stands in American city and towns for decades and they’ve never been leaked to any plague or mass poisoning. lets get them copper guys.

    Cop2) But, dem kids is easy to beat up and intimidate rook.

    • Tea Bag In Your Mouth

      So cop2 is a republican right?

      • WilliamPenn

        Only a no-news-reading moron would think Cop 2 is a Republican.

      • krp

        Actually RetiredSOF Guy, an better way to explain it is that liberals (Maybe we should start calling them “wussificationists” instead of liberals) are people that do not understand math.
        That is because they don’t have the patience or the mental capacity to learn how to get the correct answer, thus to them every thing is subjective and they hold positions that do not and cannot stand up to scrutiny or logic.

        Scenario: There are two marbles in a bowl, and two more marbles are added
        Conservative: There are two marbles in the bowl
        Liberal: *sniff* Math is hard. *sniff* *sniff* I don’t like math *sniff*sniff* Why do I have to take math? *sniff* It’s not fair! IT’S ALL BUSH’ FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Retired SOF guy

        Your name on here says all we need to know about you. My nephew asked me what the difference between a conservative and liberal was, and to keep it at a level he could understand (he’s 13) I told him that it was like the difference between an adult (the conservative) and a child (the liberal). Adults (real adults, that is) accept responsibility for their actions, keep on point and eschew name calling, understand that life isn’t fair, etc.

  • Rod Anders

    Gotta love this Obamaconomy !

  • Jon24

    How about if you see them, shoot to kill!

    • FugginMorons

      Awesome!!! Because we totally want policemen killing people at will without any sort of Due Process! Stupid 7th and 8th Amendments!

  • SeanP2500

    RIght on very true….very very true…after you shoot ole poor John’s head off then you really can’t expect any less from the populace now can you…

  • Jane

    Who is buying the copper? Those are the people we need to focus on. Is the copper ending up at a company? Is it going overseas? Where is it going?


    none of this could occur without metal recyclers willingly accepting power lines, manhole covers, etc., metal that’s OBVIOUSLY stolen. perhaps some undercover “sting” operations should go on in this area, instead of worrying about kids running lemonade stands or someone with a bag of pot. guess it’s all about “priorities.”

  • shari

    people caught stealing copper and other metals should face much higher sentences when caught.

    • Karl Menger

      Yea!!! More people in JAIL for A LOT longer!!!
      Whoo hooo!!

      That’ll fix it! More tax money spent on prisoners!!! Whoo hooo!!
      Round em up boys!!

  • cberry

    “How about if you see them, shoot to kill!”

    The theives or the cops?

  • Dudefella

    Seriously….they have to sell this somewhere. Can the metal recyclers not call the police when someone rolls in there with a ton of copper?

  • TStewart

    Why the heck are we lighting 33 miles of highway in the first place? Cars have headlights. Think of the energy that is “wasted”!

    • fws

      I often wondered that myself. What a waste of energy and taxpayer dollars. Are drivers such wusses they have to have a lighted arena to drive?

  • NaniB

    I read someplace that alot of the stolen stuff ends up on containers bound for China and since it doesn’t go through the normal recycle channel it doesn’t get reported. I don’t know how factual that is, but that would explain why stolen stuff never shows up in our recycle yards where it could be traced back to the thief.

  • Harry the Horrible

    Welcome to the Third World, folks.
    How’s that “hope and change” thing going for you?

  • Jason

    “Seriously….they have to sell this somewhere. Can the metal recyclers not call the police when someone rolls in there with a ton of copper?’

    Uhm, Dude, did you not see the part in the article where any recyclers within 100 miles of a copper theft will be notified?

    In any event, copper theft is nothing new. In the old days, people would actually steal copper plumbing parts from underneath homes that had crawl spaces.

  • Jason

    And if I see anyone attempting to steal copper from my business, they’ll be as good as DRT: dead right there.

  • John McCombs

    The governments (fed, state, local) could stop this if they wanted to by cutting off the market. Maybe they could consider it terrorism. Shut the doors of the buyers and send them to Guantanamo without bail. We’d never hear of stories like this again. /s

    • Htos1

      It’s terrorism and white guys are doing it!

  • chowthen

    They have to sell it somewhere??? All they have to do is to melt the copper and make it into bullion then sell it to wholesalers. Besides these recyclers why do you think they’ll report to the cops when they can make money of it? The one who said it’s the price of copper that’s going up is the cause of these theft is correct this can be seen in the price of ammunition on the rise because of the brass casing which are copper based.

  • dunce

    They are not common thieves, they are ecological saviors of turtles that get confused the lights with the moon. Cars have their own lights so they are reducing our carbon footprint by turning the unneeded lights off and they are redistributing wealth for obama.

  • rjh

    In 1973, when I was stationed at Clark AB in the Philippines, a major problem was the locals sneaking on to the base and stealing the heavy duty copper power and communication cables. It appears that we have allowed enough third world individuals into the country to have finally achieved third world status. Our affirmative action President wants to allow more of these people in just so he can be reelected. How’s that working out for you obama voters?

    • sailordude

      LOL, I forgot about that! You are correct! They had us post watch on my ship to guard against brass fire fittings being stolen by Chinese while anchored in Hong Kong!

      BTW vote out Obama people, it’s really really bad since he took over.

      • Just Jake from Texas

        Oh, my, I did that too stand watch on the fo’c’sle of the USS Chicago so the locals couldn’t steal the brass fittings.
        And this was also in Hong Kong.:-)
        Of course the M-1 was not loaded, sheesh. Lotta good that did.


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