New map shows where copper wire was reported stolen in St. Paul in 2023

New map highlights St. Paul copper wire theft problems

New map highlights St. Paul copper wire theft problems

A map that St. Paul Public Works provided to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this week provides a first look at just how widespread the impact of copper wire theft is in the city.

Each dot represents where the precious metal was reported stolen throughout the city in 2023.

There are 2,000 complaints on the map in total, and it represents just a portion of the reported instances, according to a spokesperson for Public Works, who said that the map only shows calls made to the general Public Works phone.

“Pretty sad, isn’t it?” reacted St. Paul resident Kevin Tetu as he looked at the map.

Tetu has been reporting streetlight outages he’s come across for years, mostly through email.

He shared a sampling of about 30 such emails he’s sent since late August with pictures of dark conditions — which only worsened as the year went on and the sun started to set earlier.

On Christmas Eve, Steven Wirtz and his dog, Gunther were hit and killed by a truck while crossing a lightless block of Maryland Avenue West. His widow said they’d complained about the outage for months.

Days later, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS revealed officials knew about a copper wire theft there months before the accident.

Tetu said it’s not the only spot left unrepaired for that length of time.

“You go up 3rd Street to the East Side, they haven’t touched it. For over a year, it’s been dark,” he said. “I don’t care how many times you have to replace it. Replace it, get the lights back up to show them that this is our city, not theirs.”

St. Paul Police made several arrests in the last couple of months, and charges were filed earlier this week against seven people in relation to copper wire thefts.

A St. Paul Public Works spokesperson noted that reporting the outages is still important. Residents may do so through the Public Works phone line (651-266-6100), via email at, or through an online form at