City Manager John Shirey says copper theft has become an epidemic:
"We've had 175 neighborhood locations left without lights. We are now backlogged three to four months in terms of repairing those lights."
Shirey told the City Council this week that he's created a task force to fight the problem. He's also asking the public's help:
"If you see people in something other than uniforms using something other than a city-marked truck doing something at our facilities that may look like repair but in fact is destruction, call the police."
Meanwhile…transit officials say copper thieves are costing the San Francisco Bay area's commuter train system hundreds of thousands of dollars and delaying a major project. Bay Area Rapid Transit officials say they discovered this week that thieves had cut away 20-foot sections of thick electrical cable in West Oakland.
Copper theft is a longstanding problem spurred by high prices driven by demand from China.
The city of Vallejo, which just emerged from bankruptcy, has not been able to replace traffic signals and street lights stripped of wiring worth $200,000.