LA is being ‘stripped for parts.’ This is what the city council wants to do about it

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

LA is being ‘stripped for parts.’ This is what the city council wants to do about it

LA politics

Angie Orellana Hernández

January 27, 2024

Copper wire thefts have plagued Los Angeles for years, posing safety risks and costing the city millions of dollars. The incidents have increased dramatically over the past year, according to city officials, who have escalated efforts over the past few years to curtail both the thieves and the buyers of the stolen wires.

In the final step, city council members Kevin de Len and Traci Park submitted motions this week

[attn copydesk: pls change to last week for print]

to combat the sheer volume of thefts,” which they say is the case


resulted in citywide repair costs of more than $17 million. The measures would create a task force and a permanent awards program for government assistance.

The city is literally being stripped into parts, according to De Len’s motion.

The task force would be a partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Bureau of Street Lighting, which manages approximately 223,000 street lights, according to the motion. In a statement, the agency said it is committed to taking all necessary steps to protect our infrastructure.

Keeping the lights on is our No. 1

number one

priority, the agency said.

According to De Len’s motion, 3,738 streetlights have been targeted by thieves in the Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno neighborhoods. Even then, LAPD Central Bureau Deputy Chief Michael Oreb said the issue is underreported and goes back years.

Oreb said the proposed task force is a good starting point. Initially, law enforcement will focus its efforts on the northeast and southern regions of the city to investigate the effectiveness of the task force. If we see successes and reductions, we will look to expand to other parts of the city,” Oreb said.

De Len appears to be spending at least $200,000 in municipal district funds to cover costs associated with the task force.

We can no longer tolerate this blatant disregard for our neighborhoods, which endangers the well-being and safety of our residents, he said at a news conference. We are taking a strong stand against copper wire theft and sending a clear message that we will bring those responsible to justice.

City officials are also asking residents for help in stopping the thefts by creating a permanent rewards program, which will allow law enforcement agencies to more efficiently seek the public’s help.

The program would allow the public to submit information through the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers in exchange for monetary compensation. The motion also called for the LAPD


set up a special email address

for reporting

thefts of copper wires, and creating a public service announcement to promote the program to residents.

Park emphasized that both motions are necessary to tackle the thefts.

This problem is so serious that it warrants a multi-layered approach, Park said.

Residents of Council District 11, which includes Venice, Mar Vista and Westchester, are fed up with robberies, Park said.

We see it everywhere: wiring and other equipment being stolen from our public infrastructure, Park said. But it’s not just about public infrastructure, construction sites and other locations. If we don’t act against it, someone will be seriously injured.

Park said metal recyclers and other businesses have been made aware of the rules surrounding the recovery of stolen copper wire thefts.

What we really need to see is our task force going out into the community to the companies conducting actual investigations, evaluating data to ensure purchases were made lawfully and then taking legal action if they find violations, she said.

The motions are among the latest initiatives by the city council to combat thefts. On Jan. 9, Councilmember Heather Hutt introduced a motion asking the Bureau of Street Lighting to explore the possibility of replacing copper wires with solar-powered lighting.

The use of solar-powered lighting could reduce the cost of powering the city’s vast street lighting network and minimize the impact of vandalism due to copper wire and power theft, making the network more reliable, the movement said.

Hutt’s motion, which was supported by Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, came in response to extensive damage to the 6th Street Viaduct, located in the De Lens neighborhood, after thieves stole a third of the structure’s copper wires.

In November, Council President Paul Krekorian and City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto also announced a joint venture that will target metal recyclers and anyone who receives the stolen material, notifying them that they must comply with copper sales laws.

The goal, Feldstein Soto said in a news release, is to help eliminate the market for stolen copper.

Krekorian added: The business owners who deal in stolen copper are just as guilty as the thieves who stole it and informed them they would be held responsible.


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