Copper wire stripped from 4S Ranch park

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SAN DIEGO – A community park was left in the dark over the weekend after thieves stole copper wire from more than half of the park’s lighting system, police said.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 4.34.59 PMSan Diego Sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Glisson said the vandals struck 4S Ranch Community Park in the early morning hours between Saturday and Sunday.  A total of 7,500 feet of 10 gauge copper wire was torn straight from 25 electrical boxes at the community park.

“Typically, they’ll take the wire and they’ll strip it and take it to a recycling facility and try to get money for the wiring,” said Glisson. “Sometimes they’ll just pull it out by hand or use trucks to pull it out.”

Recent copper thefts have been reported in Alpine, Escondido and other parts of the county.

“It was disheartening that someone stole from a county park,” said Chief Department of Parks and Recreation of San Diego County Amy Harbert.  “We have eyes and ears on our facilities and it’s not just our staff, but also our volunteers that surround those parks.”

At many of the county’s 100 parks, some of those volunteers are park hosts that live on-site.  Now, there is an added level of security, in particular at 4S Ranch Community Park.

“At this particular park we are installing security cameras, additionally we have security cameras at our other facilities,” said Harbert.Copper thefts at 4S Ranch Community Park

Unfortunately, cameras were not in place at the time of crime at the community park, which is why investigators are relying on the public to bring these thieves in.

“We’re hoping we get good information from the citizens who might know something about it,” said Glisson.

Replacing the wire at 4S Ranch Community Park cost the county $7,000 and the department is taking steps to prevent future thefts, Harbert said.

“As we replace infrastructure at our existing facilities and as we design and develop new parks, we’re going to use alternative materials that are less desirable for theft,” said Harbert.