A rash of recent thefts of electrical copper wiring from street lights and irrigation systems in Santee have left the East County community more than $60,000 in the hole for repairs, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives say that between December 2013 and late January 2014, unknown suspects have stolen approximately 4,000 feet of copper wiring from street lights, sidewalk lighting and water control and irrigation systems throughout Santee. The thefts have occurred in areas suck as Mission Creek and River Park.
In most cases, detectives say the thieves break cement covers to gain access to the copper wiring. The cost to repair the damages and replace broken covers will ultimately set the City of Santee back more than $60,000.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspects responsible for these thefts.
Anyone with information or anyone who spots suspicious activity should contact the Sheriff’s Santee Station at (619) 956-4000 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. Tipsters may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
Last month, Santee Mayor Randy Voepel voiced his frustration with the string of copper thefts and said Santee is taking extreme measures to curb the crimes. For instance, the city’s maintenance department has started caging its copper and even put up a security camera.
In some bold statements, Voepel said he blames the large homeless population living in the San Diego Riverbed for the majority of Santee’s nuisance thefts.
“For years, these were just idiots in the river bottom. We got a different kind of idiot there causing damage, and I don’t like it,” Voepel said in his January interview with NBC 7.
He also said a small amount stolen copper often costs the city thousands to repair when you factor in everything, such as replacement parts and labor.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has not made any comments supporting the Santee mayor’s claim that transients are allegedly responsible for the copper thefts.