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Thieves pilfer Los Angeles' iconic 6th Street Bridge for metal, leaving the landmark in the dark

Thieves pilfer L.A.'s 6th Street Bridge for metal
Thieves pilfer Los Angeles' 6th Street Bridge for metal, leaving the landmark in the dark 01:33

Los Angeles — Hundreds of people every day walk on Los Angeles' 6th Street Bridge, but at sundown they disappear, and the "Ribbon of Light" goes completely in the dark.

"About 7 miles from end to end of copper wire that has been stolen," L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León told CBS News. "So these lights are becoming ATM machines."

The eye-catching bridge — which traverses the L.A. River and the 101 Freeway, connecting the historic Boyle Heights neighborhood to the downtown L.A. Arts District — opened to great fanfare in July 2022 and at a cost of nearly $600 million, but now has Angelenos shaking their heads in dismay.

Over the past year, thieves have gradually stripped the lights, poles and copper wiring that illuminate the bridge's arches. The stolen metal in total is worth about $11,000, according to de León. 

"What they're getting, actually, is pennies on the dollar," de León said. "It costs taxpayers millions of dollars in repairs."

Thieves steal copper wire from 6th street bridge in Los Angeles.
Lights are out on a few of the 6th Street Bridge arches as thieves have been stealing its copper. Los Angeles. December 22, 2023. Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

A special city task force is trying to crackdown on the thefts and the recycling centers that buy the stolen copper wire.

Hundreds of fire hydrants across the city have also been stolen for scrap metal since last year. Security video showed suspects using a truck to knock one down and haul it away.

"It's mind boggling that somebody would just come into a neighborhood and steal a fire hydrant," Angeleno Krystal Cousins said.

Many replacements now have locks to prevent access to the bolts.

Meanwhile, city officials don't plan on replacing the bridge's lights until they can find a way to stop the thieves from picking the bridge apart. 

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