Phoenix leads the nation in copper theft and the problem has increased exponentially this year, presenting a big public safety concern. Silent Witness, Arizona’s premier crime stopping organization, has teamed up with telecommunications company, CenturyLink, a Lumen company, to generate awareness for the problem and help reduce the number of copper theft incidents in the Valley.

Since the beginning of 2022, CenturyLink has been the victim of 215 separate acts of theft and vandalism totaling nearly $1 million in damages in Phoenix-metro alone. This is a dramatic increase over last year in which copper theft damages only totaled $10,000 for all of Arizona. CenturyLink attributes the increase in incidents this year to the current economic climate, inflation and the sharp increase in copper prices. Above and beyond the financial and physical damage the company has incurred, copper theft presents challenges for Arizona’s 911 system and prevents access to critical emergency services.  

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“Copper theft is a huge public safety issue,” said Dan Chason, lead security professional/coordinator of the theft and vandalism program for Lumen Technologies. “Every year, we proudly process millions of 911 calls across our robust and reliable voice network throughout the United States. We know that when someone calls 911, seconds count and we take that responsibility seriously. However, vandalism like this can mean that emergency calls do not go through.” 

Copper thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are hard to identify and catch since they pose as contractors, using vans or trucks with temporary magnetic signage to steal copper from pedestals and cross boxes around Phoenix, often during broad daylight. CenturyLink desires prosecution for these crimes and will actively participate in bringing charges against guilty individuals, with the help of Silent Witness. 

“CenturyLink is a key technology partner that benefits individual households and corporations alike. We look forward to working with CenturyLink to reduce the theft of precious metals, the resulting loss of service and the financial burden those losses pose in our community,” said Rab Paquette, board member and president of Silent Witness. “We ask for the public’s help in identifying and anonymously reporting those responsible to earn a reward in the process.”

Anyone working on CenturyLink pedestals will have a marked vehicle indicating they are doing work on behalf of Lumen/CenturyLink. If you see any vehicle without this specific indication, there is a good chance a pedestal is being vandalized. Silent Witness urges people who see something suspicious to report it anonymously by calling the police.