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(Photos Courtesy of Nick Russ)
GARY, Ind. – Indiana taxpayers are being ripped-off and highway safety is being compromised, all due to brazen metal scrapper thieves who are stealing the wiring from highway light poles.
Despite additional security measures, and the mortal danger presented by stealing live electrical wires, the thieves persist, especially along the I-80/94 and I-65 corridors in Northwest Indiana. The result is darkened highways, threatening the safety of drivers, and a growing cost to Indiana taxpayers as Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) crews replace missing wires to relight highways.
Over the last two years, state highway lighting wire theft has cost Indiana taxpayers more than $300,000 in repair and replacement costs. Several hundred lighting poles have been targeted by thieves who use any means necessary to rip out and steal wiring to sell to scrap yards for cash. INDOT and Indiana State Police (ISP) have been working together to catch the crooks and prevent future theft, but with over 4,000 highway lighting poles in INDOT’s Northwest District alone, it’s a big job. Now authorities are asking the public to pitch in.
What Can the Public Do?
- See Something, Say Something – Drivers should call 911 or Indiana State Police if they see anyone around highway lighting poles. Whether the person is dressed in official highway safety gear and uniform or not, the public is asked to call. ISP will investigate all individuals around lighting poles.
What Are Autorities Doing?
- Investigate EVERYONE – ISP will arrive on the scene and investigate anyone working on or around highway lighting. Official highway lighting workers will be required to show proof of their license to be in the area. Without proper identification, the individual may be arrested.
- Additional Patrols – ISP has stepped-up patrols around highway lighting, while INDOT crews are patrolling the hardest hit areas both day and night.
- Security Cameras are Watching – Traffic Management Center technicians are focused on highway cameras 24 hours a day and will call police about any suspicious activity.
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