Claremont Insider: Crime Alert

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Crime Alert

Padua Park was the scene of a crime last month, though city officials don't seem to want the public to know about it. Apparently, on Wednesday, September 29, when city workers tried to turn on the soccer field lights at the park, they discovered the lights were inoperable because someone had stolen over 130 feet of copper wire from the park's main electrical vault.

The information going around town is that the copper, presumably taken by thieves who turn around and sell the wire to metal recyclers, was worth around $500. Like gold, copper's price has shot up the past few years, and such thefts have become more common. The city of Glendale issued an alert last year because of a rise in just this sort of crime:

Glendale has seen a sudden rise in metal and copper wire theft in the last two years. Customers are urged to contact authorities if they see people lingering near electrical equipment or inactive construction sites. Stealing copper wire is a crime and very costly for the City, but the bigger issue is public safety. Tampering with wires can cause serious harm, bodily injury or death. Power and telephone outages can also result from copper wire theft.

Odd that Claremont officials haven't issued a similar alert. The only way of catching copper thieves in the act is to have more eyeballs on the lookout, and people who reside near likely targets like parks and schools need to be alerted to this fact.

We suppose the City may say this was just a case of vandalism, but this kind of theft requires specialized knowledge. Poking around a high voltage electrical panel can be very dangerous, and from time to time we hear about the occasional copper thief getting electrocuted. The Padua Park incident, however, sure sounds as if it were done by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.

City Hall and the Claremont Police are no doubt hesitant to let news of the Padua Park theft get out because one of the complaints before the park was built was that it would lead to a rise in crime. Police Chief Paul Cooper (photo, left), who has worked with Claremont AYSO Region 3 as their Volunteer Protection Advocate, himself may have an interest in keeping a lid on the information, even if means less public awareness about the matter.

Or maybe it's all just a sign of CPD's competence level. They've issued press releases before when there were scams or more serious crimes in our area, even in cases where Claremont wasn't hit. So why not now?

Speaking of crime at Padua Park, we're waiting to hear about an increase in burglaries in the area. The public restroom sits on a rise that a good 20-25 feet higher than it should be, with the result that it offers a great vantage point from which to peer into the backyards and windows of several of the surrounding homes.

When they were planning the park, the City promised to plant a screen of trees around the perimeter to create a natural screen. But you know how it works with Claremont and promises. When the park was finally built, a good part of that natural screen consisted of oak saplings, which are pretty slow growing. Maybe in 15 or 20 years, City Hall will finally make good on its word to area residents. Of course, given the City's record with landscape management, a good number of those trees won't last that long: