Copper pilfered from north Nanaimo street lamps proving costly

With the price of copper on the rise, thieves got busy on the weekend stealing wiring from street lights.

With the price of copper on the rise, thieves got busy on the weekend stealing wiring from street lights.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said four lamp standards near the intersection of Uplands Drive and Oliver Road had copper wiring stripped out of them during the holiday weekend. The estimated cost for repairs is about $2,000.

Copper thefts from lamp standards often happen in areas south of Nanaimo, such as the Duke Point Highway in Cedar, where thieves find cover in dark areas and brush near roadways.

“A shift up here [north Nanaimo] is significant,” O’Brien said.

Jim Nelson, city roads management foreman, said copper thefts tapered off during the recession when metal values were low, but are happening more frequently as prices rise.

He said a lamp standard also had its wiring stripped in the 900 block of Haliburton Street Sunday.

Nelson said the city tracks where copper thefts occur and neighbourhoods across town have been hit over the past three years.

From early 2008 to the end of March 2011, there were 79 thefts of copper wiring from lamp standards, which racked up $88,000 in repair costs to the city.