Local

Police arrest man accused of copper wire theft

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Many neighborhoods are in the dark for months after copper wire was ripped from street lights. But Fresno Police just announced the arrest of a man they said was caught in the act of stealing copper wire in Southeast Fresno.

FPD arrested 28-year-old Eric Jackson. An officer said he spotted Jackson walking away from a darkened streetlight Tuesday night. Police add the officer later found Jackson was carrying tools to remove the copper wire from its casing.

Residential streets are not the only targets, it seems the crooks will even strike major roads like Kings Canyon. In a section, between Clovis and Fowler a row of between 10 and 12 street lights is out.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Don Marshall who lives in Northwest Fresno. The copper wire from the street light outside Marshall's home was stolen in June. He's still waiting for city crews to repair the damage. "It's just amazing, I've never seen it in such a mess before," Marshall said.

Fresno's Public Utilities Director Patrick Wiemiller said his limited crews are back logged about six months for these specific repairs.

"It's costing us about $50,000 a month in losses right now," Wiemiller said. "At this rate about $600,000 a year, over and above what our normal operations are."

The copper wire crooks are not targeting a specific area of the city. Wiemiller said of the 42,000 street lights in Fresno about 2,500 have been stripped of their wires.

A neighborhood in Southwest Fresno, near Madison and Marks, recently got the lights back on. To prevent future thefts the city is layering the utility boxes in cement.

Police said it's up to residents to look out for anyone suspicious lurking around light poles. "The city of Fresno, their crews are the only ones authorized to work on these poles. So if you see any other vans or trucks taking wire out, call us," said Fresno Police Sgt. Mark Hudson.

Next week the utility department will ask city council for $150,000 in insurance money to help fund streetlight repairs.

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Tags:
crimetracker, copper wire theft, fresno, fresno county, fresno southeast, fresno police department, local, rick montanez
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