Electrical wiring thefts in St. Paul costing city $40,000

The City of St. Paul is facing costly repairs after a string of electrical wiring thefts from light poles.

“I think that this is a really hard way to make a few bucks - a really dangerous way,” said Lisa Heibert of St. Paul Public Works.

For the past month, throughout St. Paul, thieves have been targeting light poles. So far, upwards of 8,000 feet of wire has been stolen.

“This problem isn’t unique to St. Paul this happens in cities all across the country, especially when the price of copper goes up,” said Heibert. “People get desperate and try to find the material wherever they can.”

Light poles in some neighborhoods have gone dark and according to Heibert, the repairs are costly.

“For the damage that has occurred so far, it’s going to cost about $40,000 for us to repair and replace,” said Heibert.

Residents have reported seeing a man wearing a safety vest cutting off electrical wires during the day and pulling the wires after dark. Areas that have been hit include Fairview and Thomas avenues and Mississippi Street and Phalen Boulevard.

“We ask that if residents see somebody working on a light pole, odd hours of the day and there’s not an official vehicle right there, we ask that they contact police,” said Heibert.

She says that the copper wire, which is typically sold as scrap metal, isn’t very profitable and certainly isn’t worth the risk.

“There’s electricity in these light poles and so they are messing with the wires that are conducting current, so someone could easily have a rude awakening with a tremendous shock,” she said.