Internet InfoMedia oakland locals blame homeless encampment for city removing traffic lights to stop copper thieves

A California city removed the traffic lights from a four-way intersection as the city grapples with thefts attributed to a massive homeless encampment nearby. 

Oakland has been experiencing high crime and theft, including people stealing copper wires and the city’s infrastructure, according to locals who spoke to CBS News. The city attempted to thwart criminals tampering with its electrical boxes by placing cement barriers over them – to no avail. Now, the city has taken to removing the traffic lights at a busy intersection and replacing them with stop signs. 

“It’s just telling us that the city is giving up on us,” said Tam Le, owner of Le’s Auto Body & Engine Repair, nearby the intersection, told CBS News. “If you really want to fix the stop sign, I think you really have to clean up this homeless encampment.” 

The lights had been working on and off for months due to criminals tampering with the electricity and stealing the wires, the report said. One local, Mason Young, said it was becoming extremely dangerous to drive through the intersection, and noted an accident that recently occurred there. 

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Oakland Homeless encampment

The city attempted to thwart criminals tampering with its electrical boxes by placing cement barriers over them – to no avail.  (Getty)

“We gotta stop just putting band-aids on things. Although, a band-aid is better than bleeding out,” Young said. 

Violent crime in Oakland increased 22% this year, according to the most recently available police data, which also show a nearly 10% increase in commercial burglary. 

In September, over 200 business owners shut down their stores to strike against the government’s handling of public safety amid rising crime. The protest was held days after city officials admitted to missing a deadline to apply for state funding to fight retail theft.

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That same month, Oakland city leaders launched a grant program to provide funding for small business owners to hold events — like workout classes, musical performances and movie nights — to draw customers to local shops that have seen a decrease in patrons due to crime. 

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Oakland officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

CBS News reported that the stop signs are temporary, but they currently have no timeline on when they can put the traffic lights back up.

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