Copper thieves black out street lights spanning I-94

Copper thieves black out street lights spanning I-94 from Connor to 8 Mile

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(WJBK) -

Copper thieves damage street lights along I-94 between Connor and Eight Mile Road after MDOT had just spent millions of dollars to repair the lights.

"Three million dollars, which, obviously that's more than just copper, that was to tear down the old lights that did not work, rewire everything, put up new structures and new LED lighting and all of that. And while all of that is still standing and would be working if the copper had not been stolen," Diane Cross, an MDOT spokesperson says.

Fox 2's Erika Erickson reports the copper thieves pulled the wires in broad daylight, with neighbors watching and while being dressed as utility workers.

"They were sophisticated enough to drive a vehicle that looks like a utility truck, wear safety vests - anything bright orange, bright green - and even had hard hats," Cross confirms.

Craw says Lansing can make legislative changes that would help halt the scrap metal market. She suggests copper buyers be required to take identification from anyone selling copper, so a paper trail would be left if instances, like this one, were to happen again.

Until then, these drivers are forced to drive this stretch of road in the dark.

"It's getting ridiculous out here. You can't do anything even ... you can't even watch your back," one driver complains.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to hear more from drivers in a report from Fox 2's Erika Erickson

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