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Highway copper wire thefts declining: INDOT

Traffic merges inconstructizone along eastbound I-80/94 near Broadway Gary Tuesday afternoon. According INDOT there will be overnight lane closures starting

Traffic merges into the construction zone along eastbound I-80/94 near Broadway in Gary Tuesday afternoon. According to INDOT, there will be overnight lane closures starting Wednesday July 6th as construction work resumes. The lane closures will occur between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. along I-80/94 between Broadway and Colorado Street. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 25, 2014 6:07AM



PORTAGE — Following a December plea for help, copper wire thefts from highway street lights have decreased over the past few months, an Indiana Department of Transportation official said Thursday.

INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley said crews are crediting counter-theft measures put in place in a partnership with the Indiana State Police.

“We’re not revealing what measures we’re using to stop the thefts, because we don’t want to give crooks a heads-up. But safe to say we are indeed seeing some progress,” he said.

The theft issue came up at Thursday’s Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission executive board meeting when Portage Mayor Jim Snyder asked why some of the street lights were out on Interstate 94. Snyder said neighboring Illinois highways don’t seem to have the same problem.

Robert Alderman, INDOT deputy commissioner of the LaPorte district, said the thefts “have been very intense,” along the Borman Expressway and Interstate 65.

INDOT officials said at a December press conference that thieves were wearing helmets and safety vests and posing as highway workers as they wrested the copper off the base of the light poles.

INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton said it has spent $300,000 to $400,000 replacing lights. He said officials are now exploring the possibility of solar lights.

Deitchley said tips are always welcomed.

“We continue to ask the public to call 911 if they see anyone working around a highway lighting pole. Their tips continue to be invaluable.”



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