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HomeLocal NewsSt. PaulPersistent Problem: Copper Wire Thefts Plague St. Paul

Persistent Problem: Copper Wire Thefts Plague St. Paul

In a packed gathering of St. Paul residents, municipal and county authorities convened to address a vexing and costly concern – the theft of copper wire.

St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry set the tone by bluntly asking, “Anybody else in here pissed off?” The room responded with a show of hands, reflecting widespread frustration.

The meeting on Tuesday provided an opportunity for the community to engage, listen, and pose questions as they collectively seek solutions.

Mayor Melvin Carter emphasized the power of collaboration, stating, “None of us are as smart as all of us.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi highlighted the need to scrutinize the buyers of stolen copper wire, adding another layer to the discussion.

This year, nineteen individuals have faced charges related to copper theft, a significant increase from just two in 2022. Such incidents hit close to home for residents like Steve Gjerdingen, who expressed his exasperation at the impact on neighborhood lighting.

St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Kurt Hallstrom echoed this sentiment, citing the challenge posed by the vast number of street lights juxtaposed with limited policing resources.

Repairing the damage isn’t cheap, as St. Paul Public Works director Sean Kershaw noted, with costs exceeding a thousand dollars per repair. In 2023 alone, the city spent $1.2 million on such repairs, while thieves typically fetch a mere $50 for the stolen copper wiring.

Kershaw emphasized the importance of disrupting the market for stolen copper, even for minimal gains, to mitigate the financial burden on the city.

The meeting witnessed a robust exchange of ideas, with various potential solutions under consideration. One proposal involves implementing state-level regulations mandating licenses for anyone buying or selling copper materials.

For residents like Gjerdingen, any progress toward resolving the issue is welcomed, as he expressed hope that St. Paul could effectively tackle the problem before it escalates further and adversely impacts the metropolitan area

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