Stan White went out last week to scout a location for Camden’s Peace on the Street party. After a recent spate of violence, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, he wanted the July 26 event to be the best ever. He found that Robert Johnson Park’s main source of power was gone; copper wires had been cut and stolen. A refrigerator, heating equipment, and air-conditioning unit also were gone. The city, which relies mostly on state aid and grants each year to close its $167 million budget, had no money to undo the vandalism that was reported just over a year ago.
Public Works Director Pat Keating said many city parks had gone dark because of metal thieves. Elsewhere, whole blocks are blacked out and school buildings are stripped of air-conditioning units. “Every piece of wire is being stolen. Every piece of metal is being stolen,” Keating said. Around the region, metal scavenging has affected transit agencies, power utilities, residential properties, sculpture grounds, cemeteries, and abandoned buildings. The crime has become so prevalent, the FBI said last year, that it affects national security by disrupting “the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services.”