St. Paul Public Works takes steps to deter copper thefts from street lights

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“Daylighting” is the act of leaving street lights on and electrified during the day in order to deter the theft of the copper wire inside. This is typically done in high-issue areas, according to a spokesperson with St. Paul Public Works.

However, the theft of copper wire from public street lights continues to be an issue.

Lisa Hiebert, a public information officer with St. Paul Public Works, said to call police if anyone is seen “working” on street lights without a city vehicle nearby, whether or not they’re wearing a vest or any other gear. Any video surveillance to show police is also helpful.

Hiebert notes there is “quite a backlog” of thefts from over the winter that is being exacerbated by supply chain issues.

“We’ll get to it as soon as we possibly can,” Hiebert said, adding that St. Paul saw more thefts than usual this past winter.

Wires have sometimes been re-stolen in some areas multiple times. She adds that street light wires are not replaced during winter because of frozen conduits, which typically slows down thefts, but that wasn’t the case this past winter.

“Hopefully we can catch some people and find a way to stop this from happening because it really affects our neighborhoods,” Hiebert said, adding that it may seem harmless, “but it really is impacting the livability” in those areas.

Public Works has also done “some other things” to deter thefts and hopefully catch some of the thieves resposible, but declined to provide specifics.