Fort Worth Fights Copper Thefts With Signs, Decals

City says program to deter copper thieves showing success

By Chris Van Horne
|  Friday, Sep 16, 2011  |  Updated 7:20 PM CDT
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Fort Worth Fights Copper Thefts

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Copper thieves continue to cause problems across the country, and Fort Worth is going to extra efforts to warn potential thieves that they won't find what they're looking for.

As copper prices rose throughout the first six months of the year, so did the number of copper thefts at Fort Worth city street lights and signals.

"It's certainly a safety concern -- not only for the people who are taking the copper -- but if the street lights are out, citizens are put into danger that way," said Kevin Neal of the city.

The crimes have cost the city roughly $130,000 in repairs in the last year, which is why the streets division has spent time and money to warn potential thieves.

"We decided to take a proactive approach and posted 20 to 30 of the signs," Neal said.

In addition to signs asking the public to call 911 and telling people copper theft is a crime, the city is also posting decals on certain light posts. The decals say that the copper wire has been replaced with aluminum wire and are put on posts that have already been victimized by thieves.

"You have to think that's part of it, because if they're not going to get the money they're looking for, it's not worth the effort," Neal said.

In the last three to four weeks, the city said it has seen a decrease in the number of copper thefts at posts.

City staff credit the signs and decals but do expect to get hit by thieves in the future. Fort Worth police caught a thief in the act this week, as a man was found cutting copper in an electrical box near the future Walmart site at Renaissance Square in east Fort Worth. The damage cost $13,000. But damage done to city facilities costs everyone in the city.

"The bottom line, this is coming out of taxpayer money," Neal said.

The city is encouraging people to call 911 if they see suspicious activity near light posts, signals and electrical boxes. City workers say their crews wear uniforms and use heavy equipment when working on a signal.

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