What a mess. Someone who stole copper wiring, probably to sell for scrap, cost taxpayers about $4,000 and screwed up traffic lights around Highway 224 and Interstate 205 in Clackamas this week.

Oregon State Police are investigating damage and theft of Oregon Department of Transportation property on Wednesday morning. In one case a signal control box was damaged, and in a second case, police say, copper wiring for a bike path’s overhead lights was stolen. Luckily, said OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings, no traffic crashes occurred due to the signals being out.

Police received the report of problem with traffic signals in the area on Sept. 19, at 8:30 a.m., and found it was caused after someone broke into a locked control box. The suspect or suspects took relay switches affecting stoplights and copper wiring running underground between four light poles along the Interstate 205 bike path near Clackamas. Someone apparently cut the wire at the base of the poles and pulled a total of nine 180-foot lengths of copper wire.

“It used to be a fairly common occurrence a few years ago when there was a lot of construction activity (along I-205), but this is the first one that I’ve heard about in awhile,” Hastings said.

OSP and ODOT ask anyone with information regarding these thefts to contact Trooper Travis Neubauer at 503-731-3020, ext. 471. Anyone seeing similar suspicious activity or tampering with ODOT property should call 911 or OSP at 800-452-7888.

A group of food carts were recently targeted in downtown Portland as well. In 1996, a Pacific Northwest-based group called the Construction Industry Crime Prevention Program started up to educate people about how copper thieves operate.

Contract Publishing

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