WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Thieves are stealing copper wire from West Valley City parking lot lights, and it is racking up a big repair bill.
The city Parks and Recreation department is sick of it, and they need the public's help to catch the criminals.
Half of the lights are on in the parking lot at Centennial Park and half are off - the targets of theft.
“This is our biggest park and one that they’ve done the most damage at by far," said West Valley City Parks and Rec Assistant Director Jason Erekson.
Another city maintenance worker was out Thursday trying to assess the latest damage.
“I don’t know if they’ve got something down inside there when they pulled it... but I can’t get the fish tape to it," he said.
Since October, thieves have been prying off the covers to cut the copper wire.
“It seems that they come one night and cut a lot of the wires and then come back and pull ‘em, you know, on another night... usually within a night or two of them cutting it," Erekson said.
The city estimates at least $20,000 in damage so far in about six parks, and that is a conservative estimate based on materials and some labor.
“We would like to be spending that money and time elsewhere, you know, trying to improve our parks rather than repairing vandalism and thieves damage,” Erekson said.
Ronalyn Fallentine walks in Centennial Park about three or four times each week with her friend. She said the lights being out after dark “...makes it dangerous for us to walk at night because there’s no lighting and we like to walk in the park.”
Copper wire was stolen from neighborhood parks, too. The lights are out at Parkway, Hunter Village and Maple Meadows parks.
“Basically from 7200 West all the way out to Redwood Road that have been hit," Erekson said.
Businesses are not safe either. Ones around 3500 South have been hit, as well as the Maverik Center parking lot.
Erekson said the thieves are striking sometime in the night or early morning hours. City crews only work on the light poles during the day, so if you see someone after dark near a light pole, it is likely they are a thief and not an electrician. If you see this, give police a call.