A rash of wire thefts is darkening streets in a Clovis neighborhood and prompting police to issue warnings to residents in the hope that authorities can get control of the expensive crime.
Police say thousands of dollars of wire have been taken from the Loma Vista neighborhood near Ashlan and Locan avenues since Aug. 4.
Much of the wire is ripped from the base of street lights, darkening neighborhoods and making streets more dangerous, Sgt. Jim Koch said.
Police officers and volunteers canvassed the neighborhood Friday with fliers urging neighbors to keep an eye out.
The neighborhood is not the only target.
As the price of metals soars on international markets, communities around the Valley have been hit by thieves looking to make a quick buck. They not only go after street lights and urban infrastructure but also agricultural pumps and outbuildings.
Fresno has been hit hard by wire thieves in recent years; in 2008, 2,000 streetlights went dark and the city estimated the damage at more than $500,000. Earlier, police caught a man whom they say took more than 32 miles of wire.
Koch said the thieves can be brazen. On some occasions, they have tried to pass themselves off as city or utility company workers and pull wire out in broad daylight. At other times, they work at night and the first clue that something is wrong is when someone notices the street lights are out.
City workers wear identification badges and neighbors should look to see whether the workers have them, Koch said.
The wire is sold for cash at recyclers, but police find it isn't a simple matter of warning area metal dealers. Sometimes, the wire is taken as far as Los Angeles to be sold.