JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Certain Mississippi highways and roadways will remain dark for some time due to an ongoing issue. According to officials, thieves have been taking copper wire from street lights leaving drivers in the dark while commuting.
“It’s very dangerous for everyone involved, very dangerous for the thieves themselves, when they steal the wire there are cars traveling by at very high speeds. They have to get under there and rip it out, so they’re out there on a side of an interstate which is always dangerous, especially in the wintertime when it gets a little darker. Not having these lights up and going is a danger to the driver itself,” explained Michael Flood, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Public Information Officer.
According to MDOT, this isn’t new to the Jackson area. They said the thefts have taken place along Interstate 20, Interstate 220, and Interstate 55.
“Not only do the lights need to be repaired, the copper wires, the lighting components, and the actual controls themselves, when they are ripped out, they are often messed up. So, those need to be replaced as well. It is a very expensive thing to do especially when it’s a waste of money because they keep getting stolen,” said Flood.
He said thieves have been giving MDOT issues since 2019.
“There are still some lights in the metro area that are out and just need to be repaired. Those will be repaired in the coming weeks, but the ones that are out due to copper wire theft, those will not be repaired any time soon. We’re going to have to continue to work with local law enforcement to find some kind of solution to address the issue and stop it from happening,” said Flood.
MDOT used to have an enforcement division that helped crack down on the issue. Recently, the department has tried to make it harder for thieves by asking for help from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and local law enforcement. Residents are also asked to be on the lookout for any strange activity.