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Copper wire thieves face tall order with new street light wiring

Updated April 8, 2024 - 4:57 pm

With copper wire theft becoming a major problem for Clark County, officials are looking at going above ground to combat the growing issue.

Since 2022, the Clark County Public Works Department estimates over 500,000 feet of wiring has been stolen around the Las Vegas Valley, resulting in $1.8 million in replacement costs, according to county spokeswoman Stacey Welling.

“We’ve replaced more than $1 million of it during that time, and currently have identified about 300 locations where wire theft has occurred and are actively working on repairs,” Welling told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an email. “It’s not uncommon for our crews to make repairs, only to have the wire stolen a few days later.”

The county has previously fought to thwart copper theft by either wielding, gluing or locking covers and electrical boxes.

Looking at new ways to combat the problem, county crews Monday morning were replacing the wire overhead, instead of underground, on streetlights near the intersection of Charleston Boulevard and Lamb Avenue. The wiring at the intersection has had to be replaced five times since January 2023 due to theft.

The county will test whether installing the wire overhead will make it tougher for thieves to access. Additionally, instead of using copper wire, the county crews used aluminum wiring, which carries a lower cost.

“It’s really a mess,” Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said during a news conference posted to Clark County’s X account. “We’ve gotta tackle this in lots of areas, but one thing we’re trying to do is replace it so people can have streetlights.”

The county is also working with scrap metal dealers in the area to discourage them from buying materials that were potentially stolen. They are also looking for everyday residents to get into the act to help curb wire theft.

“We’re working with the cops to try and stop people, but if you see somebody by a street pole around the bottom, call the cops — because it’s probably somebody stealing the wire,” Segerblom said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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