Over $60,000 worth of copper wire stolen in Utah leaves highway in the dark

A rash of perilous copper thefts from live power lines is spreading in the U.S., with the state of Utah alone suffering the biggest loss ever  — approximately 11 km of wire worth over $60,000 — in the last three days.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) first noticed a few missing copper lines late last week, reports ABC News, but officers don’t know when exactly thieves snatched up the wire from a stretch of Salt Lake City highway.

The heist would have taken hours, if not days, yet the thieves somehow managed to steal the copper without being noticed. This has led police to believe the perpetrators either disguised themselves as a construction crew or worked in the middle of the night on multiple occasions.

Copper wire theft has become more of a problem in the last few years, UDOT spokesperson John Gleason says, and this incident is the largest single case of copper wire theft the department has record of.

“Thieves are getting rich off the copper wire. They turn it into metal recyclers and get about 3 dollars per pound. It’s turning into big business and the real victim is you and me the taxpayer,” Gleason told Fox News.

He added the department is taking steps to prevent future copper thefts, including hiding junction boxes and using aluminum, which is a cheaper alternative to the red metal.

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