Detroit Struggles to Keep Lights On

Leonard N. Fleming, Detroit News, October 17, 2011

Like many swaths of the city, Keith Wicks’ historic Indian Village neighborhood has remained largely dark at night after vandals destroyed transformers in nearly every streetlight pole that powers them.

On a recent rainy day, Wicks, 64, a retired GM engineer who has lived in Detroit for decades, watched as city Public Lighting workers put new transformers at the top of the aging wooden poles. Just days later, those streetlights were out–again.

{snip}

The growing lack of public lighting has become a troubling problem for cash-starved Detroit, where entire stretches of neighborhoods and thoroughfares–such as portions of the Southfield Freeway–are feeling the effects.

“This city…it’s dark without streetlights,” said Wicks, who lives on Iroquois. “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

The war to keep the lights on in Detroit is a serious one. Thieves, antiquated equipment and a lack of funding have made it impossible for city officials to catch up to the problem.

City officials estimate 15-20 percent of the 88,000 lights in the Motor City are not working, and they acknowledge that figure could be as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods. Providing lighting to the city costs $10.7 million annually.

And often when they are fixed, they break down weeks and months later–or thieves steal the high-grade cable for its copper materials.

{snip}

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  • shaunantijihad

    Never mind electric, medicine and all that “White privilege” stuff. The most important thing is to find and purge racists.

    Isn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    The most effective argument I have against my programmed to the max spouse is that, “This proves we are headed to Third World status. The theft of the public square( squatters, day laborers etc.) and the pilfering of devices and materials for the common good. You never used to see this and anyone that grew up in an other era knows it. This has been the one argument where she gets a frustrated look on her face. Half, I think, from not being able to refute me and the other half just plain anger that anything not tied down in the new America is fair game.

  • Anonymous

    The simple solution would be to ban the sale of copper wire by private individuals, period. What`ll they do then, make pennies out of it?!?!

  • Cliff yablonski

    Power outages because of copper thieves….just like in Africa.

    No surprises here.

    God help us, no one else will.

  • Blaak Obongo

    So what’s the problem? If they want to steal wire, let them. That’s their problem, not ours. Let “the black community” do something besides whine, shriek and hold out their hands for more of Whitey’s money.

    “And often when they are fixed, they break down weeks and months later…”

    I wonder why the electrical equipment in White neighborhoods doesn’t “break down” with such predictable regularity. Must be that Racist electric company. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

    “…it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  • Anonymous

    The street lighting in Detroit will soon be the same as the street lighting in Mombasa! Actually at least in Mombasa anyone who steals stuff will be shot, set on fire, or have his hand chopped off or some combination of the above, so maybe Mombasa will have better street lighting than Detroit.

  • Jeddermann.

    Those of you that have seen the satellite image of the world at night will know that the contrast between North and South Korea is so dramatic. The North is a black pit almost literally and the South is highly lit up. The same with Detroit and surrounding environs I assume? Detroit slowly but surely the lights are going out and the suburban areas remain lit?

    There is an image out there of these two vandals that got zapped trying to steal some wire and metal from a pole or a power station. There is great danger in this sort of crime and these two miscreants ended up charred to a cinder!

  • Anonymous

    There should be a name for this.

    I suggest ‘Beira-fication’, after what happened to the grand Hotel Beira after the end of Portuguese rule.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZt8xsm1CGs&feature=related

  • Peejay in Frisco

    Many years ago, a black tried to steal some copper cables from a power plant. Unfortunately for him, the wires were carrying a lot of electricity.When he cut them from the circuit, he was fried and he died. Dont they know what the copper is doing?

  • Vito

    “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Man, aint that the truth.

  • MAJ

    “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Absolutely.

  • Anonymous

    “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Finally, someone is admitting it.

  • blkwatch

    here in baltimore the blacks tore out all the spikes from the marc train tracks cause they were copper the city had to replace all of them with steel

  • rockman

    So who is buying the copper wire in bulk?

  • Rhialto

    When I read this article, I had a ‘deja vu’ sensation. Then I realized that I was recollecting a prior AmRen article, South Africa’s Ignominious New Statistic: The Theft Index. I guess it was a ‘noir, comme d’habitude’ sensation.

  • Joe

    I do not understand the efforts to fix these lights. Let them go once they are out, the land must return to nature. Detroit should be given autonomy or special status. Withdraw police and army, it is lost.

  • Detroit WASP

    Having lived in Detroit and under black rule for the first 32 years of my life, I am not surprised. This is standard operating procedure in Detroit. They generally blame white people…one way or another. For instance, they blame the lack of repair funds on the idea that whites “abandoned the city” and took their tax dollars with them. We didn’t abandon the city, we fled for our lives.

    As we all know here, blacks are generally consumers of government resources and not producers and without taxpaying whites to support black dominated cities, they revert to 3rd world conditions. There are probably thousands of black Detroiters living in houses right now with no electricity, running water or heat because they didn’t pay the bill.

    There are significant numbers of egalitarian brainwashed whites moving back into the city now. But, our next riot will reverse that. “Africa in our midst”

  • Anonymous

    “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Agreed. The lack of lighting is dangerous, too.

  • Michael C. Scott

    “Who is buying the copper wire in bulk?”

    –Rockman

    Scrap metal dealers, that’s who. It’s a bit of a problem in Colorado, too, mostly caused by methamphetamines users. A common target is the control valve plumbing for lawn irrigation systems. The systems are drained for the winter so the pipes won’t freeze and break, and without high internal water pressure they’re vulnerable to being stolen all winter long. One now sees locking steel covers – like heavy green cages – over these in most places.

    There was a bill in the Co state legislature that would have made it expressly illegal for scrap dealers to pay anyone in cash; the idea was that if checks were written, a record to the seller(s) would be established, making prosecution of thieves easier. I have no idea where this bill went.

    One of my less perfect predictions years back was about commodities prices. I figured that the speculative money that drove up high tech stocks in the 1990s and then real-estate prices in the early 2000s would be shunted into commodities after the real-estate collapse and would drive those prices up. It happened to some extent – which is probably why we’re hearing about more of these thefts, but I think the recession has reduced the demand for manufactured goods, keeping a lid on commodities prices.

  • Anonymous

    “As we all know here, blacks are generally consumers of government resources and not producers and without taxpaying whites to support black dominated cities, they revert to 3rd world conditions.”

    I disagree. Mexico, Russia, Thailand and similar are third world countries. They generally have electric power, even in rural areas. Mexico City is actually a tourist destination with some interesting areas. Why would anyone visit Detriot though? Detroit and other African cities are reverting back to the stone age. I believe the most accurate comparision would actually be the Dark Ages. That is the period in Europe after the fall of the Roman empire. It was a period of rape, killing, invasion, looting, ignorance and decay. People would disassemble Roman buildings and aqueducts to build shacks. They weren’t so much criminals, it was mostly out of survival. Bands of rapists, looters and invaders were extremely common though. Most commoners did not even survive childhood. We are headed down that road unless we step up and do something.

    The dark ages ended in the 1400’s because the pope in Rome did something. He rounded up all of the criminals in the danerous city and executed them. He then ordered that the old Roman aquaducts and sewers in the city be repaired. When law and order, technology, and education returned to Rome, it spread throughout Europe, thus begining the Renaissance.

    I don’t believe in mass killing. That would be awful to kill anyone of any race. I’m not Stalin or Mao. I do believe in sending people back to their countries of origin, where they will be happier and revert back to there own cultures and habits. I believe in a peaceful solution. If this doesn’t happen, there will be no peace. Many will die…first the whites, then the others. When the whites are gone, there will simply be no food, money nor technology. We must go beyond internet blogs and create a real American Renaissance. Awareness was a good start, but now we must take the next step. One man began the last renaissance. Millions of us can do even better.

  • Soprano Fan

    Some people think that because of the Tigers and Lions, Detroit is on the way up. This article should dispel that stupidity.

  • Browser

    a few years ago I saw a British-produced program, probably BBC, very left-wing point of view, about the great number of houses (many abandoned) in Detroit, and entire neighborhoods, that are without water and are unliveable. They have been stripped of their valuable plumbing. And they cannot be renovated because they will simply be stripped again, and again!

    Instead of addressing the interesting question of WHO STRIPPED THEM, the program scathingly pointed out that Detroit is a city surrounded by Great Lakes, with an endless supply of fresh water, but that the stingy white establishment refused to supply these tragic people with the basic living necessities such as water. It was all the fault of the white-run companies and state government!

  • Anonymous

    “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

    Agreed, I am just an old country woman, but can you tell me why it is more dangerous in the dark? Don’t thieves need to see where they are going? I feel safer without all those lights. We do not have security lights on our isolated farm. It would just be holding the lantern for someone with bad intentions. Let them fall over a wheelbarrow and break a leg.

  • ATBOTL

    “The simple solution would be to ban the sale of copper wire by private individuals, period. What`ll they do then, make pennies out of it?!?!”

    What a stupid idea. The solution is to undo the demographic changes that have brought us to this point, not give up our freedom. I’m always amazed at how many posters here are authoritarian cranks who want non-racial solutions for racial problems.

  • Anonymous

    No lights in Detroit at night. It’s dangerous because all of the residents can’t be seen in the dark.

  • Question Diversity

    19 Michael C. Scott:

    St. Louis City wanted to do the same thing, computerized records, photo ID requirements (this same board of aldermen opposes photo ID requirements to vote, go figure), payment in check only, and on top of that, a 3-day waiting period between sale and check distribution. The reasoning is that a lot of copper thieves in STL are looking to cash a quick buck in order to buy dope. If they know their sale is reported and there’s a 3-day wait, this would deter most of the thefts. Also, the ordinance would only allow licensed HVAC pros/repairmen to sell A/C coils. The bill is still circulating around.

    A newly passed law in Louisiana prohibits cash payments for any second hand good, mainly because of a certain group of people we all know and love so much that love to steal:

    http://goo.gl/vnBGA

    I agree with ATBOTL above. There is only so far these laws can go before we’re living in a Rube Goldberg bureaucracy, and they’re a poor replacement for addressing the race issue head-on.

  • Anonymous

    Power outages for these types of reasons are inexcusable in these times, especially in the US. But I suppose that since many parts of the US have a third-world population, the living standards will plunge to third world levels as well.

  • Salt

    Question Diversity, in St Louis, Missouri they don’t just steal the copper — they often cut down the entire light pole when they are made of aluminum. There is no way in @(U#$ that the person behind the counter at the recycling center does not know that this item is stolen. In some areas St Louis City is going back to concrete, and wooden light poles because of the theft problem.

    In St Louis County, in the Village of Edmundson a situation was created by an incomplete buyout of homes. A hotel chain, and some other businesses were supposed to buy out everyone, but something went wrong with the deal. More than half of the houses were bought out, and became abandoned, but some people still lived on those blocks. Certain minorities breaking into the abandoned houses, ripping out the copper wiring, plumbing, and anything else of value have caused all sorts of problems for the residents that remain. Everything from no water (in cases where they broke the water shut offs), no electricity (because they shorted out the transformers when they became extra greedy, and cut the wiring, to entire houses disappearing brick by brick because the bricks could be resold.

    In the city its mainly drug gangs that tamper with the lights to make them inoperable. They tend to employ three tactics. The first is simply throwing rocks at, or shooting out the street lights. The second is more dangerous, and they often open up the control panel on it, and cut out the wiring. This isn’t done for theft, it is done to make the area safe for drug dealing. The third method is simply to pull down the wires (where this is not underground) that feed the system power. The last two methods are highly problematic because the transformers often have difficulty dealing with dead shorts that this creates. AmerenUE has been incredibly lax about maintenance for several years, and transformers that should have been replaced a decade or more ago are often still in use. This often creates a ripple effect where the transformers hit overload in chains that take out electricity to entire neighborhoods.

    One of the other big problems in St Louis city are people simply splicing into the wiring to pirate electricity. They often do a very poor job of it, leading to fires, and shut downs in the system. Theft of water from hydrants, and from simply buying the tool (or finding a substitute) to turn the water back on after a shutoff are also very common problems.

    AmerenUE thought they were being clever by removing the meter (which breaks the circuit) for disconnects, but all this requires to reactivate is to take a piece of copper with a bit of electrical tape wrapped around it (to keep yourself from being electrocuted) to complete the circuit again. They even tried various locking mechanisms, and people would just cut into the pipe, pull the wire out, and wire in their own bypass to it. Or they would wire it straight off of the pole in the areas that are still serviced that way.

    The resemblance between parts of St Louis City, and Somalia is growing every day. When the last few holdout whites die off, or move away, they will not have a tax base other than to rob from the state at large, or from federal subsidies. Its only a matter of time before the sewers, and water system hit a critical mass leading to failures that are beyond the budget to fix for entire areas.

  • Question Diversity

    Salt:

    You’re preaching to the choir here. A Sergeant for the city cops told me long ago that the worst city neighborhoods were the ones where most or all of the blocks’ street lights were off, because someone used one of the methods you described to cut them off, because they wanted the safety of darkness. The fools didn’t realize that the constant darkness creates its own suspicion. The cops know this already.

    Most people I know locally, myself included, have been the victims of unusual blackouts a few times a year lasting several hours. Ameren UE genuflects to squirrels, but I’m with you, it has to be some human perfidy.

  • voter

    26 — Question Diversity wrote at 10:15 PM on October 19:

    19 Michael C. Scott:

    St. Louis City wanted to do the same thing, computerized records, photo ID requirements (this same board of aldermen opposes photo ID requirements to vote, go figure), payment in check only, and on top of that, a 3-day waiting period between sale and check distribution. The reasoning is that a lot of copper thieves in STL are looking to cash a quick buck in order to buy dope.

    ————————

    No problem at all!

    I would think that all they need do is cross the river into Illinois and sell it there. There’s always a way.

  • Alexandra

    In my part of Ohio they want to see ID if you’re selling metal to the scrapyard. I had to show ID when selling aluminum pop cans!