The Los Angeles Metro train system is suffering a wave of Third World-style copper cable theft that has disrupted service as criminals seek to strip the metal from the transportation network and sell it on the scrap market.
Similar theft has all but halted freight rail lines in South Africa, whose economy is threatened by syndicates that steal copper and other materials, and which have also rendered commuter lines in major cities all but useless.
The Los Angeles Times noted Saturday (original links):
A section of Los Angeles’ Metro rail system that extends from Norwalk to the South Bay was delayed this week because of the theft of copper wires used to power the rail cars.
The incident marks the latest in a surge of thefts of valuable copper wiring, which has caused disruptions for the rail system, which serves more than 5 million riders a month.
Copper wire thieves are also targeting lights on Los Angeles streets and freeways. In the last four years, Caltrans has spent about $24 million on repairs, according to NBC News.
In 2021, commenting on the looting of cargo trains in L.A., California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) commented: “We look like a third-world country.” He apologized for using the pejorative word “gangs” to describe the theft.