One of the occasional — but serious — problems that causes delays on the Metro Rail system is the theft of copper wiring from signal and traction power equipment adjacent to train tracks.
We literally can’t run our trains without such equipment and repairs can be time consuming and expensive. A less obvious issue: thieves often put themselves at risk of being hit by a train when stealing our equipment. We don’t want that to happen, nor do we want to slam on train brakes and put passengers at risk while trying to avoid striking someone in our rail right-of-way.
Most recently, thieves struck the A Line on Dec. 23, causing service days. Metro had to send crews out the night of Christmas Eve to make repairs. This is not what we want for our passengers or employees. The copper wiring can be sold as scrap, the reason that public infrastructure such as streetlights have for years been targeted by those looking to make an illegal buck.
What is Metro doing about it? Plenty, although I’m not going to discuss tactics used by Metro’s law enforcement partners to thwart future thefts. We can say this: we are working to better monitor more of our tracks 24/7, we’re making our equipment harder to steal and we are working to better track copper wiring when it is stolen. Law enforcement is also letting scrap yards who buy copper wiring know that Metro is pursuing thieves and those who enable them.
This is a challenging problem as Metro runs 98 miles of rail service with tracks at street level, on aerial structures and underground. We want the public to know what’s happening — and we’re asking for your help.
If you have information about the theft of copper wiring or see our equipment being stolen or vandalized, please call 888-950-7233.