SAFETY: Street light crime rate on the rise in Kansas City

Copper is attracting thieves, and MoDOT cannot curb the illegal activity

Safety News KMBC-TV May 02, 2014
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While the rest of the U.S. is gaining daylight as summer nears, those around Kansas City are losing street light.


Hundreds of street lights in the western Missouri region are out of order. Some are lifeless because of the harsh winter or bulbs that have reached the end of their service life, but the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) believes many more are dark because thieves are after the copper in the lighting fixtures. MoDOT is doing everything it can to protect as many as 6,000 street lights in the Kansas City area, but the task is becoming more and more difficult. Video surveillance is not making a difference, and workers have even installed tougher bolts on lids and lower-gauge copper wire, but the lights continue to be vandalized.


MoDOT Traffic Engineering Supervisor Scott Brelsford believes 12% of the street lights in and around Kansas City are the victims of a crime ring. On a portion of I-70 near Manchester, Kan., MoDOT engineers believe more than 30 lights have been the victim of thieves.


MoDOT was hoping to have the street lights back in working order by mid-January, but other tasks, like traffic-signal issues, have taken priority. MoDOT District Traffic Engineer Laurel McKean now hopes the issue can be resolved in the next 90 days.


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