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Copper thieves strike again, delay freeway light pole repairs near Spaghetti Bowl

Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 02:27:47-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Freeway light poles near the Spaghetti Bowl interchange in Las Vegas that went dark earlier this month will not turn on today as anticipated.

The Nevada Department of Transportation says thieves have once again broken into the electrical pull boxes in an attempt to steal copper wiring, causing damage and delays in the repair process.

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Earlier this month, the agency says that copper wire was stripped from roughly 20 freeway light pole masts in the area resulting in $140,000 in material and labor replacement costs.

NDOT Public Information Officer Tony Illia says the latest heist attempt was unsuccessful but there was a lot of damage.

Meanwhile, the agency says department maintenance crews have made progress on repairs.

Most of the under-bridge lights are now working. Illia estimates about 30% of the freeway lights are now illuminated along the Spaghetti Bowl corridor.

But, he says, it may take another three to four weeks to complete the electrical repair work.

According to Illia, this is a growing problem. He says:

Criminals have become increasingly brazen and ambitious in their schemes, using power tools and spools to steal wiring on a commercial scale, fencing the stolen cache across the border. The price of copper is currently $3.29 per pound, up 55 percent from $2.13 per pound five years ago. We are committed to keeping Nevada motorists staying safe and connected, while undertaking added theft deterrent measures. Meanwhile, we advise motorist caution and attentiveness if traveling through the Spaghetti Bowl corridor at night.