Two weeks after the novel crime was first reported, officials in Baltimore still don’t know who is stealing the city’s light poles. The Baltimore Sun reported on Nov. 9 that about 130 of the 30-foot aluminum poles have gone missing. Each pole costs $750. Some theorize that they are being sold as scrap metal. Aluminum sells for about 35 cents a pound, and the poles weigh at least 250 pounds.
The New York Times weighed in on the caper on Friday, reporting that the poles “have been snatched during the day and in the middle of the night, from two-lane blacktop roads and from parkways with three lanes on either side of grass median strips, in poor areas and in some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.” City officials are flummoxed. “It’s not like you can stick one in a grocery cart and get rolling,” said one. The culprits appear to have gone so far as dressing up as utility crews, the police say, and placing orange traffic cones around the poles about to be felled, to avoid arousing suspicion among motorists.