SACRAMENTO — A sweater. A toy train. Golf clubs. A large section of industrial copper wire.
If you found that last gift waiting for you under the Christmas tree – the copper wire – you should probably call the police.
Early Christmas Eve morning, thieves stole copper wire from light-rail tracks along the Gold line in Rancho Cordova, bringing train traffic to a standstill through much of Thursday.
The theft likely happened between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., said Regional Transit workers repairing the rail service Thursday afternoon.
The thief or thieves appear to have used a cable cutter to cut sections of wire near the train crossings along Folsom Boulevard at both Kilgore Road and Olson Drive. The wire carries about 750 to 900 volts of electricity back to a substation, workers said, meaning the theft was both costly and dangerous.
When the first Thursday morning train passed through the affected area, the fuses blew, disrupting signals and crossing gates.
Maintenance crews began working on the problem about 5:30 a.m. and spent much of the day cutting new wire and making a patch. Gold line service was restored at 5:55 p.m.
The work shut down light-rail service from Hazel Avenue to the Mather Field/Mills station along the Gold line, which normally runs from downtown to Folsom. Buses ferried passengers along the affected area.
"We're lucky what day it is," said Jarrod Burklow, an RT maintenance supervisor.
While some people were inconvenienced by the shutdown, it could have been much worse if so many people hadn't been off work for the holidays, he added.
"The biggest problem is getting my guys home on Christmas Eve," Burklow said, as several workers feverishly cut and bent wires for the repair.
Thefts from utility companies are not uncommon, Burklow said. In his five years with RT, there have been at least a dozen thefts including a similar copper theft a couple of years ago when the price of the metal was high.
Burklow declined to say how much wire the thieves took so as not to encourage copycats.
RT has video surveillance of the area and law enforcement will be reviewing the tape, Burklow said.