Mississippi officials discuss ongoing copper thefts from lights along interstate highway
Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 24, 2022
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has been repeatedly hit by copper thieves in the Jackson metro area. The latest heist, the theft of 2,500 feet of copper wires to the interstate lights at Pearl street and I-55.
Brad White, MDOT Executive Director – “We’ve had 18 different locations where this has happened that left us with interchanges and roadways in the dark. The value of this specific location at Pearl Street is about $13 thousand dollars.”
Brian Ratliff, MDOT Chief Engineer – “We went up there and looked at the structure mounted pull box. They’re busting those apart. They’re either hooking to a vehicle with a rope tied to our copper wire that’s inside the conduit mounted to the bridges and they’re pulling it out, rolling it up and getting away.”
A previous theft of copper of wires to the lights at Waterworks curve was valued at $30 thousand dollars. The cost to taxpayers to replace the wires, even greater. The thieves putting themselves and motorists at risk.
Brian Ratliff – “The roadway lighting increases the safety for the traveling public.”
MDOT is working closely with law enforcement to develop measures to stop the wire thieves before they strike again.
Brad White – “Were looking at cameras that can maybe help us help the law enforcement agencies locally identify who is doing this. We’ve talked frankly about leaving the lights on all the time and putting up warning signs and other things that we’ve go live wire there.”
MDOT will likely have to hire outside contractors to assist in replacing the wires, another burden on taxpayers. The public is being asked to report any suspicious activity near the interstate lights, to prevent copper thefts in the future.