Courts & Crime

Sacramento area officials fight copper wire theft

If your house has been broken into or your car stolen, good luck getting an immediate response from the cash-strapped Sacramento police. But soon, a report of copper wire theft could bring a cop out right away.

Overwhelmed by a surge in theft – both of copper wire and heavy metal objects – the city is giving the issue the kind of attention usually reserved for gang violence and drugs.

The crime wave has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. It has plunged whole streets into darkness, dried up drinking fountains and forced the city to close a baseball field because the lights and snack bar have no power.

The situation prompted City Manager John Shirey to tell the City Council on Tuesday that there is "an epidemic in our city" and to urge residents to "become more vigilant" in reporting the thefts. Shirey has formed a task force to tackle the problem.

"We've got a couple of streets that are totally dark, where it's so dark you can't even see the end of the block," said Sharron Flynn, who co-chairs a neighborhood watch in the south Sacramento community of Deerfield Mesa Grande. "When our streetlights are out, we just feel vulnerable."

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