April 9, 2024   

How Vegas is Modifying Streetlights to Deter Wire Thieves

Special brackets, higher wiring and shift to aluminum aim to keep streetlights on


LAS VEGAS – Clark County, Nevada is taking significant strides to address the rampant issue of copper wire theft, which has plagued its street lighting systems, according to reporting by Heather Mills from the KLAS I-Team. The persistent problem not only leads to substantial financial losses but also compromises public safety by leaving areas in darkness.

The economic ramifications of streetlight wire theft are considerable, with Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom highlighting the fiscal imbalance: the theft of $100 worth of wire incurs a staggering $5,000 in replacement costs.


Past attempts to secure streetlight wiring, such as locking covers and gluing pole box lids, were unfortunately circumvented by persistent thieves. In response, Clark County has pivoted to more robust physical security measures, including the strategic placement of wiring and components out of easy reach.


Special Brackets Up Top

To further enhance security, access to power wires is now provided at an elevation of 28 feet, significantly higher than standard ground-level connections. This decision aims to make the wires more challenging to access, thereby reducing the likelihood of theft.

According to the KLAS report, the installation of these elevated wires is supported by specially designed brackets affixed to the top of streetlight poles. These brackets are crafted to be secure and tamper-resistant, adding an extra layer of deterrence against potential thieves. Benoit emphasized the labor-intensive nature of this installation process, highlighting the county's dedication to this innovative solution despite the increased effort and costs involved.


Wiring Issues

Clark County Public Works has begun the process of replacing the traditional copper wires with aluminum ones. As stated by Jimmy Benoit from Clark County Public Works, aluminum is chosen for its lesser value compared to copper, potentially making it a less attractive target for thieves. This shift is part of the county's broader effort to deter theft and ensure the uninterrupted functioning of streetlights.

Additionally, the county is collaborating with local scrap metal collectors to prevent the acceptance of stolen metal, creating an added hurdle for thieves looking to profit from their criminal activities. Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom highlighted the multifaceted approach involving cooperation with scrap metal businesses and law enforcement to tackle this issue head-on.

Despite these efforts, the challenge remains significant, as thieves have resorted to disguising themselves as work crews to carry out their thefts undetected. The economic impact is significant, with Segerblom noting the disproportionate cost of replacing stolen wire compared to its value.

This strategy, including the use of aluminum wiring at elevated heights and the employment of special brackets, represents a promising step forward in Clark County's fight against copper wire theft. However, the effectiveness of these measures will need to be continually assessed, especially considering the adaptive tactics of thieves.