Traffic cameras down again

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Dec 26 2013 06:13:00 PM HST

Traffic cameras have gone out after their wires were cut by people possibly looking to steal copper.

HONOLULU -

Are copper thieves to blame again?  

Hitting the same location from less than two months ago. The city believes the culprits are vandals looking for copper. It's a problem that just won't go away, and this time 35 cameras on Oahu have gone dark.

Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's report.

The barbed wire fence, warning signs and a combination lock didn't stop vandals from getting to fiber optic cables under the Middle Street viaduct for a second time.

The city's transportation chief, Mike Formby, says he knows what the vandals are looking for.

"Clearly there's no copper, and after they cut the wire they determine there's no copper and they leave everything," said Formby.  

Vandals this time left the cut cable neatly wound.

"It's a very odd finding. Normally when you come across a scene like this you wouldn't expect to find the fiber optic cable coiled and taped," said Formby.

At about 2 a.m. Christmas Day, vandals cut into a conduit, then cut a fiber optic cable. The cut cable, cut the connection to 35 cameras affecting views from Middle Street to Ewa and from Kaneohe.

That means workers in the city's traffic management center can't see what's going on, and won't know what changes to make to traffic signals to ease the flow of cars.  

"We can't remotely control the cameras and regulate traffic," said Formby.

Back in November when the cables were vandalized in the same area it took a week to get the traffic cameras up and running again. This time transportation officials say it could take up to 30 days. They are looking for ways to discourage vandals from hitting the same spot over and over again.

"What I've asked my staff to do is continue to look for more ways to harden the conduit that secures the fiber optic cable to make it that much more difficult for someone to do it in the future," said Formby.

Security cameras that are up in the area aren't working and Formby says there are no plans to reconnect them. Thieves also stole copper from retired ambulances that are sitting on the site.

Each time these thieves hit, it costs taxpayers up to $15,000 to repair the damages.

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