CHP Copper Theft Tips

The CHP has recognized that copper theft has reached epidemic proportions in California as well as across the country. This problem is getting worse and there is a target rich environment with things like freeway signs and construction sites. Over the last five years, Caltrans has spent over eight million dollars in wire replacement. District 4 is currently undertaking a 21 million dollar project to fix assorted transportation infrastructure, much of which is a direct result of stolen copper. The theft of copper wire has disabled CHP scale facilities, stopped road condition information from reaching drivers, affected Amber Alert information from reaching thousands and attributed to many disruptions of service on the freeway.

Criteria used to spot an unusual situation in a construction site or freeway include:

If a situation does not look right, ask direct questions such as:

Course of Action:

Areas -
Areas should have an ongoing dialogue with their Caltrans counterparts about construction and maintenance projects so you can be aware of potential targets. Please continue to encourage officers to notify and report. It is an Area's responsibility to take an appropriate SSP report for stolen copper on a freeway/state property. Caltrans can assist in determining a dollar value associated with an incident and providing appropriate documentation.

Officers -
When/where possible, Officers should make contact with everyone they see stopped on the freeway fitting this description of activity.

Officer safety is paramount. Copper theft can easily rise to the level of a felony violation due to the thousands of dollars it costs per incident.