Miami-Dade County Proposes Copper Wire Task Force To Combat Thefts

MIAMI (CBS4) – Copper thefts are leaving South Florida drivers and neighborhoods in the dark. So far this year on Miami-Dade County streets alone, nearly 300 streetlights have been broken, vandalized by thieves trying to get at the copper wire inside.

Now, two county commissioners are hoping a task force can help fight the problem.

“We’ve had complete neighborhoods in utter darkness,” County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

Edmonson’s District, which includes Brownsville and Liberty City, has been most affected by the copper crooks. Residents there say the lack of lighting is making already rough neighborhoods more dangerous.

“You have the elderly that have to walk, you have people coming in from work, you have children out there, and people were afraid to come out in the dark,” said Edmonson.

So far this year, thieves have taken out 277 Miami-Dade streetlights in their quest for copper.

The last four attacks happened in August. Each theft impacts nearby lights, so the County is trying to repair 17, 38, even 107 at a time.

Thieves have even knocked out 30 streetlights on I-95 in Miami-Dade and in West Palm Beach the problem is so bad, crews are installing anti-theft devices on the light poles.

Edmonson is now pushing to create a copper theft task force; made up of officers, experts, and people from the scrap yard industry.

She wants them to find a way to toughen the scrap metal sales ordinance the County already has in place.

“There were some things we left out,” said Edmonson.

Commissioner Joe Martinez is supporting the plan and wants a crackdown on illicit scrap yards that are buying the copper, while taxpayers foot the bill to repair the lights where it came from.

“If you’re not buying it, they’re not going to steal it,” said Martinez. “Who are they going to sell it to?”

Managers of the national group, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries say they support crackdowns on copper thefts, but they believe the focus should be on the thieves, so law abiding businesses aren’t hurt.

A County Committee will vote September 13th on whether to create the new task force. If it passes there, the entire Commission will vote on it.

According to Miami-Dade County Public Works the thefts were in the following locations:

  • NW 71st, from NW 12th Avenue to 1-95; affecting approximately 17 streetlights.  The lighting system was successfully restored.
  • NW 22nd Avenue, from NW 62nd Street to NW 79th Street; affects 59 streetlights.  The lighting system was successfully restored.
  • NW 23rd Avenue, from NW 54th Street to NW 55th Terrace; affects 4 streetlights.  The lighting system was successfully restored.
  • NW 103rd Street, from NW 20th Avenue to NW 18th Avenue, affecting approximately 7 streetlights.  The lighting was successfully restored.
  • NW 79th Street, from NW 12th Avenue to NW 22nd Avenue, affecting approximately 23 streetlights.  The lighting system was successfully restored.
  • NW 12th Avenue, from NW 79th Street to NW 81 Street, affecting approximately 5 streetlights.  Repairs currently ongoing.
  • NW 54th Street, from NW 6th Court to NW 19th Avenue, affecting 38 streetlights.  Repairs currently ongoing  8.  NW 46th Street, from NW 6th Court to NW 13th Avenue, affecting 17 streetlights.  Repairs currently ongoing.
  • NW 7th Avenue, from NW 42nd Street to NW 79th Street, affecting 107 streetlights.  Repairs currently ongoing.
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  • billBoy

    welcome to Miami, a beacon of a 3rd World Level City for immigrants

  • Mark Matis

    Of course, there’s NO chance that it is Preferred Species doing this. Can’t watch them, or you be rasicts…

  • Skip Stutler

    they should be going after the buyers of metal..that would stop the flow of stealers..make it so hard to sell copper that there will be no one wanting to steal it

    • nomercy55

      so u think we shoul go after the buyers of the cooper,thats the same reasoning used in the drug wars,and its not working..arrest the thieves,not the cooper industry folks,you have it assbackwards…

      • Portia2708

        THANK YOU…this type of law NEVER works

  • teaisstronger


    Who else could get away with sealing miles of copper cable? Who else but cops would have access to the equipment and fencers needed to steal the copper. This is why the police do not what to be photographed by anyone because they would be recognized.

    • nomercy55

      i wouldnt doubt it if it were the cops doing it,theyre corrupt as hell

    • PhoneBill

      Geez I hope you’re making a joke and don’t really believe what you wrote.

  • teaisstronger


    Calling the police today to report a crime is like calling Medicare to get help.


    Shoot the peres on sight! It will slow the problem waaay down!

  • Mike


  • Thiefhater

    Catch them, chop off their right hand….that will put an end to this!

  • FreudianSlip

    How many of these copper and metal thieves are illegal aliens or illegal alien construction workers out of jobs and their families living off billions in free social services?

    • Susan See

      I was wondering the same thing.

  • Bob

    I suppose the task force members will probably become known as “coppers”, then just “cops” for short.

  • capoprimo

    Is this really a true to life “three blind mice” exercise? How can anyone chop away at miles of cable and no one sees a thing?

    The public must be aware that something is wrong, why not report it? Is everyone so intimidated that no one wants to speak out? We are all each others keepers, if it doesn’t look right, if it doesn’t smell right, call it in; the worst you’ll do is interupt some cop eating his donut,

  • John

    In San Francisco there was an article about an illegal stealing the iron tree grates along the sidewalk.

  • Juan Pablo

    Remove the incentive by instead installing larger gauge wire.made of STEEL. The larger gauge will compensate the inherent greater electrical resistance loss of steel. Steel is much cheaper than copper and aluminium; not worthy of theft.

  • James Woods

    If the government and bankers weren’t looting the people the people wouldn’t be doing the same.

    We never had problems as widespread and to this extent in how long or perhaps forever.

    The country is in more debt then it’s ever been in. Unemployment is as high as it’s been since the depression.

    So government is here to provide a solution to the problem they cause. Good job.

  • WayneLLewis

    It is called passing a, “Shoot On Sight” Law. That is the only Task Force you need.

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    I couldnt agree with you more!!

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