Blue City Took Down Traffic Light At Busy Intersection After Homeless Stole Copper Wire, Residents Say

"I think you really have to clean up this homeless encampment."
a city crossing with a semaphore, red light in semaphore, traffic control and regulation concept
(Getty Images)

Oakland, a blue city in California, took down a traffic light at a busy intersection after thieves kept swiping copper wire, and residents say the nearby homeless encampment is to blame.

City workers replaced the traffic lights with four-way stop signs at the intersection located at East 12th Street and 16th Avenue.

The move came after people repeatedly stole copper wire and tampered with the electrical box at the intersection to allegedly steal power.

The city tried putting heavy cement blocks on top of the electrical boxes, but people simply dragged them out of the way, a city spokesman said. The stop signs are temporary, according to the city, but it does not have a timeline for reinstalling the traffic lights.

Neighbors expressed their frustration, and some blamed the homeless encampment around the intersection. The encampment spans about three blocks on 12th Street from 17th and 14th Avenues.

“If you really want to fix the stop sign, I think you really have to clean up this homeless encampment,” Tam Le, owner of Le’s Auto Body & Engine Repair, told CBS San Francisco. He has been running his auto shop on a corner of the intersection for more than 25 years.

“It’s just telling us that the city is giving up on us,” Le said.

The traffic lights had not worked properly for months before they were taken down, residents said.

“The city did try to fix the traffic light at least a few times. But once they fixed it, normally within a week or so, it will go out again,” Le said.

Violent crime is up overall in Oakland compared to this time last year, according to the latest police data. Robberies, in particular, have spiked, topping 1,000 incidents already this year.

Robberies involving a gun are up 21% to 409 incidents, and carjackings are up 4% to 166 incidents. Aggravated assaults are down but remain high at more than 900 incidents. Homicides are also down, but 23 people have already been killed this year.


Oakland residents have been sounding off about rising crime for at least a year.

Last May, about 500 angry residents showed up to a town hall meeting on crime to demand answers from city leaders on Oakland becoming more dangerous, especially violent incidents perpetrated on women and the elderly.

In July, the Oakland chapter of the NAACP blasted city leaders and called for a state of emergency over the city’s crime “crisis.” The black civil rights organization, which tends to lean Left, blamed the “defund the police” movement specifically as part of the reason for the crime spike.

In nearby San Francisco, the worsening trifecta of crime, homelessness, and public drug use has caused many businesses to abandon the city’s once bustling downtown area. This has left many commercial buildings empty and cut into the city’s tax revenue, exacerbating the city’s growing budget deficit, which officials warned could reach nearly $1.4 billion by 2027.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Blue City Took Down Traffic Light At Busy Intersection After Homeless Stole Copper Wire, Residents Say