Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

Given that they stand some 30 feet tall, their disappearance is attracting a good deal of attention here - even as their final destination remains a mystery.

Thieves are sawing down aluminum light poles. Some 130 have vanished from Baltimore's streets in the last several weeks, the authorities say, presumably sold for scrap metal. But so far the case of the pilfered poles has stumped the police, and left many local residents wondering just how someone manages to make off with what would seem to be a conspicuous street fixture.

The poles, which weigh about 250 pounds apiece, have been snatched during the day and in the middle of the night, from two-lane blacktop roads and from parkways with three lanes on either side of grass median strips, in poor areas and in some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.

"It's a newfound phenomenon; I have to say we haven't seen this before," said David Brown, a spokesman for the city's transportation department . "Apparently, the culprits know what they're doing because we're talking about 30-foot poles here. It's not like you can stick one in a grocery cart and get rolling."

The culprits seem to have pole-snatching down to a model of precision and efficiency, city officials say. They appear to have gone so far as dressing up as utility crews, the police say, and placing orange traffic cones around the poles about to be felled, to avoid arousing suspicion among motorists.

The missing poles have become yet another measure of the desperation in one of the country's most violent cities. Last year, Baltimore, with a population about one-twelfth that of New York City's, had a homicide rate more than five times as high.

An illegal drug trade fuels much of the violence. Health officials say 40,000 addicts live among Baltimore's estimated 650,000 residents. For at least a decade, addicts who cash in scrap metal to pay for their next fix have been ripping metal pipes, radiators and wires out of vacant houses, and prying cast-iron security grates and downspouts from buildings.

But the audacity of the latest thefts has startled even law enforcement officials. "It definitely is brazen," said Officer Nicole Monroe, a city police spokeswoman. "It surprises me that people would be so brazen as to do something like this."

The police have no suspects, Officer Monroe said. On Nov. 9, a man was arrested and charged with theft, the police said, after he was spotted in East Baltimore with a light pole sticking out the window of a station wagon. It turns out, however, they said, that that particular pole had been knocked down by a vehicle, the police said, and the man has not been linked to any pole thefts.

Some observers here - in calls to talk radio programs, letters to newspapers, chats over a beer or coffee - wonder how the thieves have eluded the police for this long.

"If the cops can't catch guys who're cutting down 30-foot poles, how are they going to crack a major drug gang?" said Chip Franklin, a talk-show host on WBAL Radio, a local news and talk station. "What's next? Someone taking a downtown building?"

But Lynn Smith, the manager at the Modern Junk and Salvage Company in Baltimore, said the thieves' quest for quick cash did not surprise her. "They find any way they can to get the metal and then the money in Baltimore," Ms. Smith said. "They don't care how they get it."

She added that she and other local dealers in scrap metal were "on alert" for sections of aluminum light poles and would not buy them. But, Ms. Smith suggested, thieves may be cutting the poles into pieces, then heading out of town to sell the scrap aluminum, which goes for about 35 cents a pound.

It will cost about $156,000 to replace each pole, the metal arms that extend over roads and the glass globes, city officials said.

Beyond the financial loss, Officer Monroe said, the thefts could enable other crimes to be committed.

"From a public safety standpoint, what these thieves are doing is just horrible," she said. "People want well-lit areas when they're walking and when they're driving in the city."

Pole theft "is a crime," she said, "and we will actively pursue anybody" caught doing it or suspected of it.

For now, though, parts of Baltimore have grown a bit darker at nightfall.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 12:10 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

They are after the lights themselves to grow marijuana[:D].....Or they're..........Terrorist making
rocket fuselage's [:0]Or just crackheads cashing them in!

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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 03:18 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

And they say, " Any publicity is good publicity"
Welcome to Baltimore, hon, BYOL ( Bring your own lights)
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 04:40 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

I remembered reading this way back.I wonder where the scam started or if it's a case of 'great minds think alike'?



Britain

The Times April 11, 2005

Sign of the times as aluminium thieves endanger drivers’ lives
By Paul Rowland

THOUSANDS of road signs are being stolen by gangs who dress up as road contractors and sell the metal to scrapyards.

An abrupt rise in the value of aluminium has prompted the rapid disappearance of signposts across Britain, causing, in some cases, chaos on roads.

In March the price of the metal rocketed to a ten-year high of $2,016 (£1,068) a tonne. A 20kg sign will fetch about £14.

Although thieves have shown a predilection for the chevrons that indicate sharp bends on roads — their size makes them more valuable — police are also concerned about the systematic destruction of motorway monitoring systems, which are encased in aluminium cupboards. Cities such as Manchester are facing bills in excess of £500,000 a year to repair the damage.

Although the Highways Agency denied the problem had spread nationwide, police want an investigation into the scale of the crimewave. They suspect that gangs of thieves are scouring the country for aluminium signs.

“Anyone can get a white van and an orange light on the top to do anything they like with the signs,� Chief Inspector Ian Lomax, head of the motorway unit at Greater Manchester Police, said. “People are being reckless because they think they can make a quick buck, but lives are being put at risk.

“We want to know who is doing this, and part and parcel of that investigation is finding out what they are doing with the signs.�

Usually the preserve of drunken students seeking bedsit decoration, the theft of road signs has become an unwelcome phenomenon. In an effort to fight back, some councils have resorted to ordering signs made of plastic or an unsaleable alloy. Yet even the tin substitutes being affixed to the thoroughfares of Newcastle continue to vanish. Thieves, often working at night, have apparently been unable to differentiate between the metals.

In Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and Newark, in Nottinghamshire, the substitutes, which have only a third of the lifespan of aluminium, have been accompanied by notices that read: “This sign is not aluminium. They are steel and have no scrap value.�

People in the Essex village of Epping Green have been stunned by the disappearance of more than 200 signs, including one bearing the name of the village. The Rev Chris Bard said of the Epping Green name sign: “They’ve stolen our identity, not just bits of aluminium. It’s like the war; people don’t know where they are.�

The city of Manchester has had £250,000 of signage stolen since January. Police throughout the North West have issued more than 2,000 identification badges to road workers and now regularly perform spot checks.

One scrap metal dealer in Manchester said that he had been approached by travellers who had scouted for roadsigns in a highly equipped van.


They have all the gear to take the signs down and then they try and sell them on,� he said. “We don’t take them any more, we’ve had the police around and we won’t have people selling road signs around here any more.�
Gangs target areas where they can approach the motorway from neighbouring roads or fields, to avoid stopping conspicuously on the hard shoulder.


Andrew Banyard, head of AA signs, said: “There are parts of the country that do have a big problem, although it’s hard to pin them down because the problem moves around.

“It’s a big road safety issue. Where the signs are being stolen for their scrap value, clearly people are looking at taking large signs.

“They have been put there for a reason, so if they are not in place, it’s a big health and safety problem.�


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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 06:03 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

I just got a helluva deal on a 28 1/2 foot aluminum pole and a security light for my new house.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 06:43 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

Does anyone really believe crackheads are boosting light poles?

For the kind of effort it takes to steal a 30 foot pole these fuckers could get two part time jobs. If a fiend had that kind of equipment and gear it would have been sold long ago. To top it off the wires are neatly tied I've never seen a hype do anything neatly.

All the crackheads I know are hustlers or hookers, you can get a lot more than 35 cents a pound handling dicks.

This does not past the sniff test in my book.

This is a city employee or contractor with some kind of scam going. Such bullshit.

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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 06:54 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

does it bother anyone else that a light pole costs 160 grand?

This signature removed to protect the innocent.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 07:01 AM
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

That’s what I'm talking about, Willis...

Wouldn't you arrange for that shit to disappear if you had the contract to sell and install them for the city?

150K time 130 poles almost 20 mill!

And this is a piss ant drug scam!?!

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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 07:35 AM
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Urban Legend!

Quote:
GermanStar - 11/30/2005 10:30 PM
Light Poles Are Vanishing
There never were any light Poles. Poles are predominently heavy sets, they can't vanish! Potatoes, cabbage, Kielbasa, Kiszka , Pasztetowa, Krakowska, fatty dairy, and vodka will do that to Poles.

Come one, wake up, don't believe everything you read! Just look at this shit!

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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
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RE: Light Poles Are Vanishing, and Baltimore's Police Are Baffled

Quote:
GermanStar - 11/30/2005 9:30 PM

Pole theft "is a crime"...
I'm just glad we're not talking eunuchs here...

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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