August 28, 2008

Copper Theft Leaves Antioch Bocce Players in the Dark

By Hilary Costa

Antioch bocce ball players have been left in the dark this week - - literally -- after thieves stole the copper wiring from the light fixtures that surround the courts at Chichibu Park.

"Without any power we couldn't play past 8 p.m.," said bocce aficionado Dick Straub, who had planned a large bocce tournament and potluck dinner Wednesday night.

The group had to speed up the games and break into smaller teams in order to finish before the sun went down. "We got to play at least five games before it was dark," Straub said.

The incident was reported Wednesday, and city parks workers are now scrambling to get the lights back on at Chichibu.

This is the latest in a rash of copper wire thefts that have plagued Antioch parks, Deputy Director of Recreation Dave Sanderson said. The most recent crimes, where thieves access the wiring in light fixtures and yank out hundreds of feet of copper, have targeted smaller neighborhood parks, Sanderson said.

About 1,500 feet of copper wire was taken in the incident at Chichibu, said Antioch police Lt. John VanderKlugt

"It's becoming very popular," VanderKlugt said. "It's almost become an industry in and of itself due to the value of recycling copper and metals."

The money thieves get for their booty at metal-recycling centers is nothing compared with the cost to cities to purchase and install new wire, Sanderson said. He could not yet estimate the cost of the Chichibu Park theft.

Antioch has taken some measures to deter brass pipe and copper wire thefts, said police Chief Jim Hyde, and residents are asked to report suspicious activity at or around parks to police at 925-779- 6900.

Reach Hilary Costa at 925-779-7166 or [email protected]

Originally published by Hilary Costa , East County Times.

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