Copper thieves targeting light posts in St. Paul

January 08, 2019 06:53 PM

This time of year, St. Paul Public Works isn't pulling any wiring in lights throughout the city. But the city has seen a rash of folks breaking into city light poles to remove the copper that's used in them.

"The damage to the light poles depends on how they got in. It really can vary from situation to situation and it ends up being thousands of dollars of damage for the city to repair these light poles," Lisa Hiebert with the city's public works department said. 


In fact, St. Paul police did catch someone this past July. The Ramsey County Attorney's Office charged Roger Eugene Christian with one count of damage to property. The city says he did more than $16,000 in damage.

Mike Watters helped catch a couple of guys who stole from light poles right out in front of his church, Beacon of Hope.

"They got from here to the corner and when they were rounding the corner it broke," Watters said.

In 2008, it became state law that scrap metal dealers must keep records on sellers including their driver's license number and other information law enforcement might need. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS filed an open records request to find out how many times that law has been enforced. The results are below.

Hiebert says wiring thefts from street lights across the city and in parks is a continuing problem. In December, officers were called out to Crosby Farm Park where they found thieves had stolen copper wire from 10 light poles along Shepard Road.

"There is live current going through the lights. These are live wires within our poles. And so this is a dangerous way for somebody to make a few dollars," Hiebert said.

The city of St. Paul says if you see someone working on the lights and they don't have a St. Paul Public Works or parks and recreation vehicle nearby, contact the police immediately. 

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Todd Wilson

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