Almanac

News - August 24, 2011

Thieves snatch $14,500 in copper

Approximately $14,500 worth of copper wire disappeared from two Menlo Park sites during the weekend of Aug. 13.

One thief cut through a chain-link fence and padlock at the Pacific Gas & Electric substation in the 2000 block of Willow Road, and stripped copper from grounding tools, according to police. Price tag: $4,500.

Then, someone removed $10,000 worth of copper wire from a parking garage in the 800 block of Oak Grove Avenue.

Copper thefts aren't new. During the summer, the new Facebook campus on Constitution Drive lost approximately $18,500 of copper wire weighing more than two tons total.

But the state's trying to make the crime more expensive — for the thieves. AB 316, a bill currently under consideration by the state Senate, proposes a mandatory fine of $10,000 for committing grand theft copper by stealing more than $950 worth of the metal.

The value of copper has been rising and is now at $4 per pound. High prices lead to high risk. Several men have been electrocuted during attempted copper thefts in California during the past year, including a 16-year-old boy in April, according to other news reports.

— Sandy Brundage

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