City dealing with a rash of copper thefts

Copper wire crooks have caused power outages in The City, police said.

During the past three weeks, cops said, there were at least a dozen thefts of bare copper wire from underground sidewalk manholes citywide. There was also an incident at UCSF Mt. Zion on Wednesday when the hospital was forced to run on backup generators following a similar theft.

The targeted copper wire “is the neutral leg, which connect the underground transformers feeding high voltage electricity” to residents and businesses, police said.

The thefts caused some outages and considerable damage to residents and businesses, cops said. Police believe the punks park a car at the curb adjacent to a grated sidewalk vault between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., remove the manhole cover, and descend into the vault.

The copper wire, which is 1¼-inch thick, is cut with ratcheted bolt cutters or a hack saw, cops said, or uncoiled from the transformers.

“The target areas appear to be areas which have no overhead wires and are usually located in light industrial areas,” police said.

Areas targeted in the past include the 4500 and 4900 blocks of Mission St; 12th & 14th streets in the Mission District; Folsom and Hawthorne streets; Drumm and Battery streets; the 400 block of Jackson Street; Gough and O’Farrell streets; Sacramento and Webster streets; Turk and Masonic streets; Mission and Harrington streets and Eighth and Minna streets, police said.

Follow the San Francisco Examiner’s crime blog, Law & Disorder, on Twitter @sflawdisorder.

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