With copper stolen from city streetlights, Topeka police share how to spot thieves

Local News

(Courtesy Photos/Topeka Police Department)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Someone is stealing copper out of the streetlights in Topeka, according to local police.

The Topeka Police Department said Thursday that it has seen an increase in theft and criminal damage to the city’s streetlights. The thieves are taking copper wire out of them, and photos show they’re leaving a mess of cables when their work is done.

TPD shared one way to spot possible suspects in the copper light thefts, and it involves looking for how the people arrived to tamper with the streetlights.

“Only marked white City of Topeka trucks bearing the city seal on the doors should be doing work on street lighting. Work on street lights takes place during the day, Monday through Friday.”

Topeka Police Department

The rise in copper thefts in Topeka follows a national trend that analysts have watched since 2008. Stealing copper can damage critical infrastructures like cell towers, railroads and electrical stations, and can also disrupt the flow of electricity, telecommunications, heating and other utilities for the public, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In one instance on April 4, 2008, thieves stripped the copper wiring from five tornado sirens in Jackson, Miss., preventing them from turning on and alerting residents of an incoming tornado.

The FBI said the thieves steal and sell the copper back to recyclers across the U.S. for high profits due to increasing international demand for the metal in China and India.

If anyone sees suspicious activity near the streetlights in Topeka, TPD asked them to call 785-368-9551, or email telltpd@topeka.org. Witnesses can also leave an anonymous tip with Shawnee County Crime Stoppers by calling 785-234-0007, and could earn a cash reward for their help.

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