Metal thieves move 1-ton blocks, do $5K damage to city lights

EUGENE, Ore. - To deter thieves who steal wire from city lights for the value of the scrap metal, the City of Eugene started covering junction boxes with 1-ton blocks of concrete.

Now the thieves have figured out how to move the blocks, doing $5,000 worth of damage to get enough wire to maybe get $50 in scrap value.

"It's absolutely a problem," said Eric Jones with the City of Eugene, who met KVAL News at the scene of the latest theft at 11th and Danebo in West Eugene along the Fern Ridge Path. The same wires were stolen in 2009.

"This is 15 lights in this section here, and I do want to say that the biggest problem is that the users of this path - and there are many of them, including in the evening and early morning hours when it is dark," Jones said. "Their safety is at risk."

Jones said the city thinks the theft happened last Thursday night.

Now city workers will go back to the drawing board to figure out a better way to keep thieves away from the wires.

"If you see a crime in progress like wire theft call 911 and report it to police crime in progress," Jones urged the public, "because probably the only solution is to catch these people."