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Copper thieves strike Mitchell, Greer parks in Palo Alto

Original post made on Jul 17, 2012

Thieves stripping copper wiring from light poles and electrical systems at Palo Alto parks have caused thousands of dollars in damages and risked electrocution, city officials and Palo Alto police said.

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Comments (18)

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Posted by Too bad
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Watcher
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

When you put candy in a dish outside your house on Halloween, it will be emptied very quickly, despite any sign saying "Please take just one".
When we put money in the form of copper in poles and such, it will be stolen. The question is, how do we theft proof the poles, or what is more expensive: replacing copper regularly, or buying surveillance cameras to safeguard our infrastructure?
Whoever invents tamper proofing for items containing copper is gonna make a fortune.

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Posted by patriotic citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

Sad that people resort to theft. Maybe they needed to feed their children too.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

In addition to surveillance cameras, theft detection electronics needs to be added to that infrastructure that is subject to vandalism and/or theft. This would include locks, which would be keyed to some sort of detector that would alert a central operator (911, or Field Services) that an unauthorized access to infrastructure.

Since the parks are supposed to be closed at night, then some sort of movement detectors might be considered.

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Posted by member
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

Since parks have been targeted, perhaps discreet nighttime police surveillance is in order at other city parks.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

OK, I understand that it's really expensive, but how about burying our utilities? Who knows, if the thefts continue, this may even prove to be cost-effective!

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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Clearly the thieves are knowledgeable in how to steal from electrical fixtures without being fried. Maybe even in a "work truck" of some sort, to appear as though they are on a bona fide assignment. No one saw anything? Hard to believe. Someone who is an insider or has inside contact?

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Posted by Davey-o
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Interesting. I happened to be coming home btwn. 1-2 am mid June. Saw headlights back down that road off Charleston that boarders the school heading to the park. Other than the headlights, it was completely dark. Being alerted to the possibilities, I called the emergency number for the PA PD. The interest level was less than minimal; which is sad, because it could even have been a violent crime in progress.

I'm afraid this is due to continue to occur until surveillance is added. And, I hate that, because I don't like the idea of living under being watched all the time. But I guess it's unavoidable with some of the elements we have "working" the area.

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Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Shocking! Too bad that the thieves didn't get a shock or two themselves as a deterrent to stealing the copper pipe.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

This is unacceptable. We need to find ways to protect valuable public property, fixtures, electricaland etc. I had read about copper being stolen - I am surprised our city officials didn't anticipate this possibility and think about ways to protect that, for example.

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Posted by Mark Miller
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

These cities need to start locking these entry points with high security fasteners. It does not cost much and saves a ton of money.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Uh, Tom, these were already buried, just not secured very well.

Sanity check -- it's non-trivial to pilfer several thousand feet of wire. 27 boxes, 6 wires each, say 30 ft length to make it around 5000 ft total? I have a hard enough time with a 25-ft extension cord. Don't know how they made off with a mile. Seems it would take more than one vehicle. 60 amp rating is maybe 4 or 6 AWG, ~100 pounds per 1000 ft, call it 500 pounds. Kitco spot copper price today is about $3.50/lb. Scrap copper maybe fetches half of that, so thieves may realize, oh, $900? Worth the risk of shock or jail? No telling.

Looking closely at that photo, I wonder what the sculpture in the background is made of...

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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I've heard that such thieves sell the copper at recycling centers (who else would want it?). Can we put out an alert to the local recycling centers to maybe catch these vandals?

A good, but less expensive deterrent would be to install floodlights triggered by motion sensors. Then the neighbors would be alerted to call the police.

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Posted by Copper & motion sensors
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I like the idea of MOTION SENSORS!!!! but might be also good to be able to see what is going on.

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Posted by LOL
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 19, 2012 at 2:00 am

Dear member, I just read your post about putting police in the park at night. I had to laugh because there only 5 cops on at night in PA so looks like thats not going to happen.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Legitimate recycling centers already have to demand IDs from anyone offering copper wire or pipe for sale.

Like this comment
Posted by Carlitos Waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Lets rig the "christy" boxes, so whenever an unauthorized person opens it, he would receive a certainly deadly electrical shock,and set off emergency lights, recording video cameras, and sirens to wake up the whole neighborhood while at the same time send a distress call to the Police Department, and only a few ones in the Utilities Dept should have the secret in how to bypass it.

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Posted by CC
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Now I know why the city like saratoga has no street light. May be a way to go!

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