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Henderson Residents Warned About Copper Thieves | Crime

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Henderson Residents Warned About Copper Thieves
Crime

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The lights are back on along Lower Meadows Avenue near Eastern Avenue and Green Valley Parkway. Crooks ripped out all the copper from the street poles. The thieves left the neighborhood in the dark and ran away to cash in the copper at scrap yards.

John Penuelas, Jr. is Henderson's traffic engineer. He says thieves are targeting the city, tearing street lights apart and grabbing all the copper they can get their hands on.

"Any place is vulnerable," he said. "As copper prices peak, the activity peaks. If copper goes back down, then they kind of move on to other things. So, it's completely cyclical with the market."

Penuelas says Henderson residents should call 911 if they see a suspected copper thief. "If it's after our normal work shift, which is six in the morning to four in the afternoon, they are definitely not authorized," he said.

The Management Team senior property manager Steve Neiger urged Nevada lawmakers to crack down on these crimes. Copper thieves have cost his company's commercial properties half a million dollars.

"They used to do it just in the middle of the night. Now, they're doing it in the middle of the day," he said. "A month or two ago, I had an incident where these guys went up there, early in the morning, 4 or 5 a.m., and they were posing as roof repairmen. They brought jars of tar up on the roof."

As scrap metal prices surge, copper theft crimes explode from a nuisance to an epidemic. "Millions of dollars can add up very quickly," Neiger said.

Neiger is encouraging his tenants to call the landlord anytime they see someone working with metal, in case crooks are posing as workers.

As for the city street lights, the thefts will cost taxpayers approximately $500,000. 

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