On our side of the state, in the Columbia Basin, it's irrigation and other farm equipment that's 'hit' for it's copper. On the West side, thieves are targeting state highway street lights!

Often, officials say it's a sign of a less than stellar economy, referring to increases in copper thefts. Copper brings a very high price at recycling centers, anywhere from $.77 to over $2.00 a pound.

Authorities say a four-mile stretch of State Highway 16 near Tacoma has become a recent hot-spot over the last few months for thieves who are stripping out the wiring. The State Department of Transportation says at least 20 times over the last couple of months. Officials say every time they fix the lights, they're hit again by thieves.

Now, officials are questioning if it's worth it to keep fixing the lights. The four mile stretch near Cheney Baseball Stadium is not considered dangerous, but motorists have commented on how dark the drive has become, especially heading into fall.

There are safety concerns now that it's darker earlier, but no word from the DOT on when they plan to replace the lights with different systems that don't utilize nearly as much copper wiring.

Officials say these thieves must be desperate, because it's difficult to climb the poles far enough to access the wiring inside of the hollow structures - including the light fixtures.


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