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Metal thieves darken I-15 in copper wire heist

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It's the biggest copper wire heist UDOT has ever seen. Thieves aren't just taking the wire but leaving Utah roads in the dark and it's costing the state major bucks.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It's the biggest copper wire heist UDOT has ever seen. Thieves aren't just taking the wire but leaving Utah roads in the dark and it's costing the state major bucks.

Copper wire ripped out of the ground and stolen along I-15.

Richard Hibbard, UDOT Roadway lighting engineer, said, "35,000 feet of wire that has disappeared."

Costing UDOT more than $50,000 and leaving this major road in the dark.

The wire was stole from 11 junction boxes between 1000 North and 1800 North.

Hibbard said, "Someone has been out in the middle of the freeway pulling out 500 feet stretches of wire."

It's a brazen act probably taking the thieves several hours, even days to accomplish.

Hibbard explained, They pull stretch out, cut it up and drive off."

Replacing the wire and restoring power to the lights is taking UDOT's money and major time.

Hibbard said, "Our resources are really being taxed to the limit dealing with this issue."

Teams are working on this project instead of the other maintenance they should be doing.

Hibbard said, "If you want to meet a frustrated group of people, you should meet my crew. They work hard getting back in and then have it stolen again."

UDOT is frustrated, but the real victim is the taxpayers. All of us paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace something, that wasn't broken. It was stolen.

UDOT spokesperson John Gleason summed it up pretty easily, "It is simply a waste of time and resources."

UDOT has seen this problem increase over the past few years. In 2012, UDOT spent more than $400,000 to replace stolen metal.



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