Cops should put pedal to the metal thieves
A state park has been shuttered because thieves made off with copper wire.
COPPER thieves continue to rip off taxpayers and damage public facilities across Oahu. Though the police department has asked recycling businesses to keep track of people selling scrap metal, more aggressive action is necessary to cut the flow of cash these thieves get for their looted goods. With only about a dozen businesses taking in scrap metal, it should not be too difficult for law enforcement to focus more closely on them. Legitimate dealers should welcome the scrutiny.
Officials were forced to shut down the Sand Island State Recreation Area after thieves pulled more than 300 feet of copper wire from a transformer that powered the park's sewage pumping station. Without the station, which was replaced just 18 months ago, the park's six restrooms can't be used.
Earlier this month, a man was arrested after he allegedly cut down a utility pole near Koko Head District Park in an attempt to steal copper wire. In August, Mililani High School was hit twice by thieves who tore copper downspouts from buildings, adding one more to the 11 public school campuses similarly damaged. For months, parts of the H-1 have stayed dark because of wire thefts from street lights.
Copper's price has soared as worldwide demand has increased. In May, police asked recycling businesses to get names, driver's license numbers, addresses and other information from people who sold them high-priced metals. But many are afraid they will lose business if they insist on collecting such information and the less metal they take in, the less they make in resale.
Park officials haven't yet put a price tag on repairing the Sand Island transformer and don't know how long repairs will take. Highway officials have delayed fixing street lights until they can figure out a way to prevent further thefts or to use less lucrative wiring.
Meanwhile, the cost to taxpayers runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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