Lakeshore News Tonight

Wire Thefts from Light Polies Along Interstates

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December 11, 2013 — You might not realize it, but you are being watched during your commute on Interstates 65 and 80/94.  While this type of surveillance is normal, Indiana Department of Transportation employees are keeping a close watch on activity near light poles alongside the highways.

INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley says an increase in metal thefts has impacted the Hoosier state along Indiana’s highways, where scrap metal thieves have found a way to make money from an essential tool for nighttime driving, robbing taxpayers in the process:  stripping wire from roadway lights poles.

“More than $300,000 have been lost in Indiana taxpayer money just in our district alone due to these thefts,” Deitchley estimated when adding up the replaced light poles.

The metal thieves are quite brazen.  Deitchley reported that a light pole recently destroyed for scrap metal was hit by a vehicle to access the box with wiring inside.  That wire is copper and presumably worth a lot of money.

State Police Lieutenant Jerry Williams said pole hits and other pole tampering weakens a pole’s foundation and puts drivers in danger, “There’s also a risk to the thieves because these are live wires.”

While INDOT and ISP are watching.  They need help.

Deitchley said, “More than a million people in the course of a week travel on I-65 and 80/94 in our area.  That’s more than a million sets of eyes that can help us stop these crooks.”

The thieves are sophisticated.

“They could be somebody looking extremely official.  They could be wearing highway safety gear or official looking clothing or regular clothes. No matter who they are, if you see somebody by these highway safety poles we want you to call 911 or Indiana State Police.”

To report anyone near a light pole on the interstate, contact state police at 219-696-6242.

By Renetta DuBose


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