BART police confirmed that a third incident of copper theft from BART property was discovered this morning in Oakland.
The two previous incidents of copper cable theft were discovered across the Bay earlier this week.
“We have had a spike in metal thefts. It’s not new and it’s definitely a safety issue for the people stealing it and for the public when they cut the fences,” said BART Deputy Police Chief Ben Farrow.
The unidentified copper thieves have chosen an especially dangerous site to steal the precious metal, since the individual removing the metal may be electrocuted and commuter safety may be jeopardized, Farrow said.
As the price of copper goes up, reports of metal theft also tend to rise, Farrow said.
Scrap copper sells for about $3 per pound and much of the scrap copper purchased in the U.S. is exported overseas to Asian countries, said an employee at an Oakland-based scrap metal company.
“The money they pay for metal has increased. The more money they can get, the more brazen they get,” Farrow said of the metal thieves.
BART police are also monitoring possible sites where the stolen copper cables may be redeemed for cash.
While some metal thefts cause alarms to go off inside the BART system, many metal thefts do not trigger alarms and are not discovered until well after they occur. Daily inspectors and train operators usually discover the thefts in routine inspections or by witnessing suspicious individuals on the train tracks.
Farrow said BART detectives are working overtime and with allied agencies, including other cities across the country that are experiencing similar issues.
Farrow urges the public to notify BART police at (510) 464-7000 if they see any vehicles near BART property without e-plates or government tags after BART hours or if they see a breach in the fences.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News