Copper theft is on the rise in recent years. One of the easiest targets is the copper wiring within traditional street lighting. There’s usually no surveillance and access to the light bases is ground level. This leaves street and park lighting out of commission in areas where it’s needed by the community.

Here are some of the struggles experienced by three different cities and how copper theft is affecting them.

Los Angeles, CA

Copper theft in Los Angeles has been a huge problem for years. It’s estimated there are around 25,000 street lights out in the City of LA, leaving many residents in the dark. This is even worse in the downtown industrial area which has a 40% street lighting outage rate. Copper theft has reportedly increased by 800% and repairs on the streetlight can take up to a year.

Louisville, KY

In Louisville, they had 24 interchanges and about 1,400 lights out in April 2024. These unlit highways increase the risk to drivers. Lights stripped of their copper can stay out for weeks before they are repaired, and once replaced the wiring is stolen again.

The city has spent about $1 million dollars replacing the stolen wiring.

St. Paul, MN

St. Paul deals with cold temperatures and snow throughout the winter. The lack of daylight is felt in neighborhoods where the outdoor lighting has been targeted for vandalism and theft, and residents feel unsafe. The dark lights have become more of an issue in highly trafficked areas recently, as copper thieves get bolder. The city doesn’t have the resources to patrol all areas with lampposts, which would be an impossible task regardless.

One resident of Como Lake made a map showing just how bad the outages were. Each dot is a light that’s non-functional:

So, how can solar lighting combat copper theft?

Solar outdoor lighting does not have any wires to connect it to a power grid. This is the biggest benefit to ward against copper theft, as there is no copper! The solar light fixtures are completely self-contained, so the poles are empty.

While not immune to vandalism, our solar lights are resilient. We have many stories of lighting poles and bollards being knocked down by vehicles, and the end result is almost always that the lights work fine afterwards. The pole just get replaced, or the solar bollards re-bolted to the base.

Is theft causing darkness in your community?

Let’s see if solar can be the solution.