Copper wire stolen from Poway streetlights

Wire stolen from Arbolitos Sports Park

POWAY, Calif. - Authorities asked for the public's help Wednesday in solving the case of missing copper wire from streetlights in Poway.

Around 15 to 20 separate incidents of copper theft occurred over the past year, mostly on streets that see very little traffic, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The thief or thieves typically steal 50 to 500 feet of copper wire per incident but in one case, stole 2,500 feet of wire from newly installed lights at the Arbolitos Sports Park on Pomerado Road, authorities said.

In all, roughly 50 street lights have been vandalized during the copper thefts, authorities said, adding that the cost to repair each light was about $700.

"Obviously, there is a safety factor when we have a bunch of streetlights that are out and it's kind of dark out," said Det. James O'Brien of the sheriff's department's Poway station.

It may be about more than money, however. Veterans Park went dark for about a month.

"Anybody who knows anything about our flags knows that our flags are allowed to fly at night with lights on," O'Brien said. "If there's no light, they've got to take the flags down."

The park is meant to honor those who have served, like SFC Steven McDowell, who served in the 82nd Airborne Division and graduated from Poway High School in 1972.

It is also meant to honor those who have sacrificed for the country, like McDowell's son, SFC David McDowell. David McDowell, also a Poway High School graduate, was on his seventh tour when he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008.

"When you build something for veterans and somebody targets that it becomes a little personal, especially nowadays with our troops overseas," O'Brien added.

O'Brien was a Marine in the 1980s, which makes it even more personal for him. He hopes to catch the thieves by Veteran's Day.

O'Brien told 10News thieves can make about $3 a pound.

San Diego County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Crime Stoppers can be reached at (888) 580-8477. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.

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