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  • BTI Communications Group

Los Angeles is Being “Stripped for Parts” How to Combat L.A.’s Copper Wire Theft Crisis

Copper wire theft in Los Angeles has evolved from a persistent issue into a full-blown crisis, creating safety hazards and draining millions from the city's coffers. The surge in incidents over the past year has prompted city officials, including L.A. City Council Members Kevin de León and Traci Park, to escalate their efforts against both the thieves and the buyers of stolen wires. 

According to a report by the L.A. Times, the financial toll on the City of Angels has surpassed an astonishing $17,000,000 in repair costs.  The gravity of the situation is further emphasized by the US Department of Energy's estimation that the nationwide cost of copper wire theft has reached a staggering $1 billion.

The primary targets of these thefts include:  

  • Construction sites  

  • Abandoned buildings 

  • Commercial heating systems 

  • Air conditioning systems  

  • And industrial facilities 

City of Los Angeles

How is L.A.’s City Council Combating This Epidemic?  

De León and Park claim that "the city is being stripped apart." This sentiment is echoed in the stark reality faced by neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and El Sereno, where a staggering 3,758 streetlights have been affected by copper stealing.  


The impact of copper theft extends beyond financial losses, affecting the city's fabric. Essential infrastructure is compromised, posing safety risks, and disrupting the daily lives of residents and business owners alike.  

A Special Task Force to Combat Copper Wire Theft 

To combat copper wire theft, a proposed solution is to establish a dedicated reward program for public assistance and create a specialized task force. This collaborative effort would involve the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting, and the Los Angeles citizenship which would receive monetary compensation in exchange for information.  


Law enforcement agencies are adopting advanced tracking methods to identify stolen copper wire buyers, collaborating with recycling centers to intercept these stolen goods before they re-enter the market.  


“This problem is serious enough that it warrants a multi-layered approach,” Park said. “Copper wire theft is everywhere, wiring, and other materials being stolen from our public infrastructure, but it is not just public infrastructure, it is construction sites and other locations. If we do not crack down on it, someone is going to get very seriously hurt.” 

Desperate Times Require Desperate Measures 

Councilmember Heather Hutt put forth a crucial motion to address copper cable theft. Her proposal explores the potential of replacing copper wire with solar-powered lighting, aiming to lower costs, reduce vandalism, and improve network reliability. 

This motion, supported by Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, follows considerable damage caused by thieves who stole a third of the copper wires from the 6th Street Viaduct in De León's district. 

This past November, the council President, Paul Krekorian, and City Attorney Hydee Feldstein announced their collaboration to reduce copper theft by targeting recyclers and anyone participating in the buy and sale of stolen copper cable. 


This new proposal aims to eliminate the market of stolen wire to reduce copper wire stealing. Krekorian stated, “Business owners how who trade in stolen copper are just as guilty as the thieves who steal it and we’re putting them on notice that they’ll be held responsible.” 

The Impact of Copper Cable Theft in Business 

The impact of copper wire theft goes beyond municipalities or cities. Business owners are also highly affected by the increase in copper theft not only in L.A. but in all the US. Stealing copper is considered illegal nationwide, and, in some states, copper stealing can be considered a federal offense.  

Copper thefts drastically affects your business by:

Causing Unexpected Downtime  

According to Forbes, 82% of companies have expected unexpected downtime in the past 3 years with most businesses suffering more than one downtime recurrence within this period due to reactive maintenance process.

In simple terms, most business owners do not have the preventive measures to avoid copper wire stealing and other causes of downtime. For example, the fix-model approach in manufacturers results in:  

  • 17% to 74% increase in wrench time rate.  

  • A 20% to 30% increase in inefficiency. 

  • From 1-10% decrease in production times.  

And that is not all, according to Gartner, the average cost of downtime in the IT industry is $5,600 per minute but this varies depending on your size and vertical.  Here you have a table of the average downtime cost divided by industry: 

Average Downtime Cost


Cost of Downtime Per Hour

IT Industry

From $140,000 to $450,000

Manufacturing Industry




Auto Industry



$1,000,000 to $5,000,000



Energy Industry


Only 52% of organizations can recover from downtime in 12 hours or less due to the lack of disaster recovery plans. 

Let’s imagine you are in the IT industry, and you experienced a total downtime of 8 hours. This will result in 2,688,000 dollars lost from unexpected downtime. This could have been prevented with proactive support services that cost a fraction of the cost.   



Hindering your Physical Security Measures  

Copper wire theft can often be the cause of physical security malfunctions. This not only leaves your business vulnerable to theft and other existing threats. Non-functioning security measures can leave your valuable staff at risk.  

A real-life example of how physical security measures can reduce multiple kinds of theft including copper wire stealing while protecting your staff can be found in our amazing Partner Gjovik Ford, who managed to reduce theft and false claims by 75% with BTI’s physical security solutions.  



What Can You Do to Prevent Copper Wire Theft? 

There are multiple steps that you can take to not only avoid copper wire theft but also increase the overall security and efficiency of your operations.  

Install Security Cameras 

Criminals who know that they are being watched think twice before committing crimes. Just take the example of the city of Orange County, New Jersey, which managed to reduce all types of crimes by 50% just by installing security cameras. 



Install Motion Sensors & Alarms  

Alarms can be installed on or around the perimeter of a site where copper wiring is present. When paired with motion sensors suspicious movement or attempt to breach this perimeter triggers the alarm, alerting security personnel or law enforcement to the potential theft. 

Do not worry about false alarms, with an experienced partner like BTI, and solutions like CheKt Visual Alarm monitoring you can eliminate false alarms and ensure that your team is only alerted when a real problem is on sight. 

Integrate Your Physical Security Systems  

Security Systems Integration will not only keep your business away from copper wire theft. Integrating your solutions will enhance your overall efficiency while creating a streamlined and efficient security system that is cost effective and protects your business from all kinds of threats. 

How Are You Protecting Your Business Against Copper Wire Theft?  

Now you know how to protect your business against copper wire theft, and what steps you can take to ensure your business never becomes a victim of copper stealing and other physical security threats. 

If you are looking for a reputable physical security partner that can help you enhance your business efficiency, streamline your operations, and reduce your overall security cost by creating a streamlined and proactive physical security system you are in the right place.


Are you ready to enhance your physical security measures? Contact BTI today to schedule a free business assessment and discover how we can help you take your business to the next level.  

Want to know some of our client's successes? Take a read!  





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