Albuquerque replacing copper wiring with aluminum to deter thefts
September 20, 2018 06:13 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Copper theft appears to be big business for Albuquerque criminals.
City officials are trying to address the problem by replacing the copper with aluminum. They hope to deter criminals by adding a sticker reading “this pole has aluminum wiring.”
“We have been suffering from quite a bit of copper theft this year,” said Johnny Chandler, Public Information Coordinator with Albuquerque Municipal Development.
Casey Chavez, 34, is the latest suspect connected to a growing problem.
According to the criminal complaint, the wire Chavez stolen has resulted in more than $85,000 in damages.
In 2018 alone, Chandler said there’s been $350,000 in copper wiring damages.
“Sometimes we would not be aware if copper has been stolen or not,” said Chandler. “We kind of need that from the community.”
According to court documents, a tip is exactly what landed Chavez behind bars.
Someone told police “Casey stole copper wire from the light poles on Coors and I-40 near the Walmart.”
They said he “makes $2,000- $3,000 a day from the thefts.”
Police say from June to August, he sold nearly 13,700 pounds of copper wire to local recycling yards.
“It’s incredibly frustrating. The money that goes to this company to do the LED conversion and to repair these lights is taxpayer’s dollars,” said Chandler.
Instead of replacing stolen copper with more copper, it is being replaced with aluminum. Poles are then tagged with stickers saying the pole has aluminum wiring. City officials hope the less valuable wire will be less of a target.
City officials said the aluminum replacements have not been stolen.
Chavez is being held without bond pending a district court hearing.
Updated: September 20, 2018 06:13 PM
Created: September 20, 2018 04:56 PM
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