Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80
DDOT Seeks Help from Residents to Combat Copper Wire Theft
(Washington, D.C.) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is requesting the public’s help to combat the theft of copper wire from the District’s infrastructure. On at least four occasions in recent weeks, thieves have removed electrical wire from underground conduits along city streets.
In one case the thieves stole wire that powers the sidewalk lights along Kenilworth Avenue, NE between Foote and Hayes Streets. Wire that illuminated a DC 295 overhead sign was also removed on northbound Kenilworth Avenue between Polk Street and Eastern Avenue.
In both locations the copper wire was removed from underground conduits placed between manholes in a grass median (not in the street). At these locations the theft did not require a lane or road closure and might not have draw attention.
A third incident occurred at North Capitol and Irving Streets last week, and another at South Capitol Street and Potomac Street. DDOT is currently in the process of restoring power at all four locations.
How Residents Can Help
“This is a community safety problem, and the cooperation of the public is critical,” said DDOT Acting Director Terry Bellamy. “We need drivers, pedestrians and residents to please call police if you see anything suspicious along our roadways.”
In some cases, thieves may pose as contractors by setting up staged work zones to steal the wire. Anyone witnessing a theft in progress should not confront the suspects, but rather should immediately call 911. Vehicle and suspect descriptions are very useful to authorities. DDOT is working with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to deter additional thefts and is also exploring ways to enhance the security of its electrical conduits.
Risk of Injuries and Deaths Resulting from Copper Thefts
Vandalism and copper theft endanger not only the innocent, but also perpetrators and their accomplices. Those who attempt to steal copper-wire put themselves precariously close to live electric transmission facilities powerful enough to electrocute quickly and without warning. MPD is currently investigating a recent attempted theft of copper that resulted in the suspect being seriously injured by electrical burns during the offense.