Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Two state agencies have combined efforts to combat highway lighting wire theft.
The Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana State Police are investigating highway safety compromised by metal scrappers who are stealing wiring from highway lighting poles.
Despite additional security measures, and the mortal danger presented by stealing live electrical wires, the thieves have persisted, especially along the I-65 and I-70 corridors in West Central Indiana, according to a news release from ISP. The result is darkened highways, which threatens the safety of drivers, and a growing cost to Indiana taxpayers as Indiana Department of Transportation crews replace missing wires to relight highways.
Since March within the INDOT Crawfordsville District, state highway lighting wire theft has cost Indiana taxpayers more than $200,000 in repair and replacement costs. Several hundred lighting poles have been targeted by thieves who use any means necessary to rip out and steal wiring to sell to scrap yards for cash. INDOT and Indiana State Police have been working together to catch the suspects and prevent future theft. There are more than 1,000 highway lighting poles in INDOT’s West Central District alone.
Authorities ask motorists who see anyone around highway lighting poles to call 911 to report it. Whether the person is dressed in official highway safety gear and uniform or not, the public is asked to call. ISP will investigate all individuals around lighting poles.
Official highway lighting workers will be required to show proof of their license to be in the area. Without proper identification, the individual may be arrested.
ISP has stepped-up patrols around highway lighting, while INDOT crews are patrolling the hardest hit areas both day and night. Also, Traffic Management Center technicians are focused on highway cameras 24 hours a day and will call police about any suspicious activity.