County fights to keep lights on
More than 1,000 street lights affected in last 3 years
MIAMI – Hundreds of Miami-Dade County street lights are constantly dark because of constant copper thieves.
"It's easy to get into. It's an easy cut and they are getting into them at night when the lights are out," said electrician Tony Marchetta.
Marchetta runs Prime Electrical Contractors, one of two companies that maintain the street lights for the county. It's a race they are constantly on behind the criminals.
In the last three years, over a thousand street lights have been affected by the thieves. County commissioners are now considering adding two more contractors to help keep up with the demand for repairs.
So what's being done to keep the thieves away from the wiring? Well for one, aluminium is being used to replace the stolen copper. It's not as valuable at the scrap yard and harder to cut. Also, better locks are being developed for junction boxes.
These added costs are estimated to be anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to over $12 million to add special locks at every junction box in the county at $225 a piece.
Marchetta says something has to be done because the thieves are getting more creative.
"It took one night to steal the wire but a week to put it back again, because it has to be done properly," he said.
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