Street light wire theft is a big and expensive problem for public agencies.  A world wide shortage of copper led to a dramatic increase in the salvage value of copper wire, starting in about 2006.  Coupled with the economic downturn in the US, a very unorganized but persistent wave of wire theft began.  With the slow-down of the building boom in China in about 2014-15, the price has since dropped off substantially but is still higher than historical averages.  Here is a snap shot of the current situation:

·      -  Salvage yard owners successfully opposed legislation that would have outlawed cash payments and mandated payments by check mailed to a street address.  (See for more)

·      -  The typical wire thief is not a career criminal, but tends to be opportunistic and is someone trying to meet short term cash flow needs.  Agencies who were able to apprehend thieves did not see the wire theft activity stop.  

·      -  Pull boxes in isolated areas seem to be particularly frequent targets of wire theft.  Pull boxes in view of residences or businesses are less likely to be targeted.

·        Typical approaches to reducing wire theft include:

o   Pull box locking kits

o   Filling pull boxes with concrete

o   Covering pull boxes with soil or even asphalt concrete

o   Using copper-clad aluminum wires instead of copper to reduce salvage value

o   Installing cell-phone alarm circuits in street light wiring