MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – Copper thieves have struck again, only this time they didn’t knock out any street lights.
Over the weekend, thieves cut through a lock on the front gate of the Florida Power and Light substation at 8175 NW 37th Avenue. They broke into a storage container on the property and stolen six giant reels of copper wire. The reels each contained about a thousand feet of wire. Also stolen were several relay switches, according to FPL.
Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Det. Edna Hernandez said the materials and wire were worth approximately 20-thousand dollars.
“We take security very seriously and work closely with state and local law enforcement agencies to guard against copper theft at all of our facilities,” said FPL in a statement. “In addition to interrupting service for electric utility customers, copper theft disrupts telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating and other services. Copper thieves also can create serious risk to themselves and to the safety of the public.”
Copper wire thefts have prompted Miami-Dade County to set up a task force to target the problem.
In the last year alone, 30 lights on I-95 between NW 30th and 79th Streets have been vandalized for their copper. In the past six months, thieves have stolen copper wire from a hundred lights in Palm Beach, over a 33 mile stretch.
In Miami earlier this month, the theft of copper that disabled some lights nearly cost a pedestrian her life. Thelma Morrow, 52, was struck and thrown through the windshield of a car whose driver did not see her because the lights were out.
The copper wire is often sold for scrap at junk yards for far less than its value. The FPL substation theft took place sometime between 5:30 p.m. when workers left for the weekend and Monday morning when they arrived back at work.
Police are checking into whether there’s any surveillance video in this case and say they believe a truck was used to haul the stolen copper wire away.
If you know anything about this crime, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.