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Copper thefts hidden culprit in traffic gridlock

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Motorists are quick to blame solo drivers, out-of-sync traffic lights and an improving economy for San Francisco Bay area traffic gridlock.

But copper thieves are a hidden culprit in the commuting mess.

They tear out copper wiring powering metering lights, traffic signals and freeway electronic signs.

The San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/U5kUgk) says 59 meters have been vandalized in the bay area in the past year.

The California Department of Transportation has replaced wiring for 18 of those meters at a typical cost of $35,000 each.

And it can take up to four months to make repairs.

Copper can fetch up to $4 a pound at recycling facilities.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com

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