Thieves Target East Lakeview Street Lights For Copper

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – Copper thieves have not been wasting time cashing in on new lighting being installed in the East Lakeview neighborhood.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has sent out an e-mail alert to ward residents, asking them to be on the lookout for people stealing copper wire from light poles.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

New residential street lighting was installed on Melrose Street, Aldine Avenue and Buckingham Place, between Halsted Street and Broadway, in December and January.

New lighting was also installed on Fremont, Wolfram and George streets this winter. The new lighting structures are silver in color and in addition to the standard light over the street, they also feature a second lamp, on the sidewalk side, to better illuminate the way for pedestrians.

Authorities believe the thieves are operating during the day when power to the posts is turned off. The thieves may be dressed as electrical crews when they cut the wires by day and then return at night to pull out the copper cable. 

“We don’t know who is perpetrating this, but it is someone who has a working knowledge of how these systems work,” Chicago Transportation Department Brian Steele said.

Tunney says the posts coast about $100,000 a block to install. To date, the thieves have cost the city $30,000 in repairs. City crews have been working to repair those lights, and weld the service panels shut, Tunney said.

The alderman urged any residents who see anyone trying to break into a street light panel to call 911 and report the incident to police, with the location and a detailed description of the offender.

Henry Weinchek noticed something amiss Sunday night as he was walking his pug, Nixon, past some of the streetlights that had been vandalized. He saw severed and exposed wires. His dog got dangerously close.

“I figured, well, that’s not good ,” Weinchek told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • Jack

    Keep the lights on. Maybe the dummies will zap themselves.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CBS 2 Chicago, WBBM Newsradio 780, savetheusa, windycitynews, Mark Shore and others. Mark Shore said: For you copper bulls out there: Thieves Target Lake View Street Lights For Copper […]

  • Fm Sugi

    wire the access plates with current so they zap themselves iif they open them. and if anyone sees anyone around the lamp base, take pictures and video with your cell phone.

  • Bob Hamilton

    There should be a way to wire them up that would fatally electrocute anyone attempting unauthorized access of the panel.
    Thanks for that file photo of a street lamp Channel 2. It has no resemblance to the ones in this story, but in case the readers didn’t know what a street light was, your picture might give them a clue.

  • Robbie C

    I wish that residential theft, vandalism, trespass, drug dealing, prostitution, and strong-arm robberies were written up like this with the same outcry from the alderman and the same plea to report these crimes. They all occur in the same areas, that’s why the light went up in the first place.
    AAAAHHHHH Priorities. That;s the clincher!

  • joseph

    Not all children Of illegal parents commit such crimes my husband was once illegal and our 25 yr old daughter happens to be an RN n other 2 r in great private schools at OUR expense!Also lets use our great states attorney Anita Alverez!!!!both her parents were illegal look how far she got!!!Its not about where one lives or comes from its what you make out of the houseold

  • ron

    Put a bullet in ther effing heads when they are caught.

  • robert

    If the cops that call xcops sons and waste there time or should i say the citys time and tax payers money calling saying your lucky and you better not were out on the street maybe they would solve crimes like this.

  • Joshua Self

    The article failed to indicate that the color of the street light lamp is a new “white” light and therefore much dimmer than the previous or “standard” orange light. There must be copper in the new lights vs. the previous ones. I would like to know why the city wasted all this money in new lighting for it to make the streets much darker when compared to the old ones. Also, it makes walking down Melrose feel much more unsafe and is a target for thieves to operate in a darker area. I personally do not like the new lights and hope that because of this incident the city should restore the original lights and stop wasting our tax dollars on issues like this. I am all for progress but if “it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

    • LoveThoseNewFlashyLights

      O.k. well said Joshua. Now, if you see someone fiddling with the street lights, call the police. That’s nine, a one, and another one.

      • Joshua Self

        That was funny! Isn’t that the number where I get an overly friendly person on the line? Or is that 311? lol I will be certain to do so.

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