Copper Theft on Pali Highway Raises Safety Concerns

Scott Ishikawa
Scott Ishikawa

PALI HIGHWAY (KHNL) -- They're at it again. Copper thieves strike the Pali Highway, leaving a section of that busy Oahu road in the dark.

The crooks ripped out copper wiring from several lighting fixtures. It happened on the Honolulu-bound side of the Pali near the Kaneohe lookout.

You can see the damage left behind. Lights along a stretch of the Pali Highway are stripped of their insides.

"We haven't had a copper theft in awhile," Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation, said. "And I was just kind of wondering when the next one was going to take place."

Wonder no more. On Monday, a state electrician making routine checks of street lights in the area discovered someone had stolen thousands of feet of copper wiring.

"It's always been part of the job, just to make sure that the lights are working," Ishikawa said. "And unfortunately, when they checked the lighting system yesterday, they noticed that some of the copper wire was missing."

Transportation officials are especially concerned about copper thefts along the Pali Highway and the Likelike Highway because the lighting systems are older. They say electricity runs through the wires even during the day, when the lights aren't on.

"It seems more than the average crook did this type of job," Ishikawa said. "He seems to have some kind of knowledge on how to cut the wires with the power on. Somebody is going to really get himself electrocuted sooner or later, pulling these kind of stunts off."

The state is asking drivers to report any suspicious activity along Oahu's roadways.

"We're just continuing to ask the public to be vigilant 'cause that's how we caught the guys on the H-2," Ishikawa said. "With the public continuing to be vigilant, hopefully we can kind of continue to discourage this activity."

Honolulu police say they have no suspects in this case.