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Copper thieves strike on H-2 Freeway

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:36 a.m. HST, Sep 10, 2010

The state is asking for help in catching the thief or thieves who stole copper wire from the H-2 Freeway early Wednesday morning.

The Department of Transportation said about 700-feet of stranded copper wire was stolen from electrical circuits on the H-2 Freeway near the north-bound Wahiawa off-ramp, rendering the street lights inoperative. Wires were also cut at four other electrical pullboxes, but were not taken. The estimated street value of the stolen wiring is about $4,300.

Highway repair crews replaced the wiring near the busy off-ramp yesterday and reactivated the street lighting.

Motorists who see possible copper wiring thefts or suspicious activity are asked to call 911 and report the location to police.

Copper theft from freeways was a major problem until 2008 when police, with help from tipsters, busted a gang of thieves who prosecutors say stripped 72,000 pounds of copper wire worth $563,000 from 12 sites.

State officials said the thefts, which went on for several years, darkened large stretches of freeway and cost taxpayers more than $3 million to repair.

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