Copper theft has cast into darkness 33 miles of Interstate 95 in South Florida, reports the Palm Beach Post. Thieves have yanked out the underground copper wire needed to power the overhead lighting. The wire can be sold to metal recycling companies for as much as $3 a pound. State officials say it will cost $200,000 to replace the wiring and install anti-theft devices to prevent thieves from removing it again.
During the past four to six months, state transportation officials say, 18 sites in Palm Beach County have been hit by thieves, who removed 175,000 feet of wire. The problem is being reported across the country. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a Washington-based trade group, has set up a website where law enforcement officials across the United States and Canada can report thefts and have the information relayed to recycling sites within 100 miles of where the incident occurred. In Florida, metal recyclers are required to take photos and thumbprints of their customers before buying metals.