Metal thieves strike Livingston neighborhoods

Metal thieves targeted at least 11 homes in Livingston earlier this week, striking outdoor cable television boxes for aluminum wiring, the Livingston Police Department said.

Detective Patrick Radke said police believe the thefts occurred between about 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, primarily in the area of Briarwood Drive and Vine Cliff Way.

All of the cable boxes, or “vaults,” belong to Charter Communications, police said.

Radke put total damage estimates at about $11,000.

“We believe they are possibly taking the aluminum as scrap to (recyclers),” Radke said.

The aluminum line-extenders, also known as “minibridges,” are located inside the outdoor cable boxes, which are generally kept “closer to the sidewalk areas in front yards of homes,” Radke said.

Police said the line-extenders boost the customer’s cable signal.

“Removing them can interrupt service, but it doesn’t always,” Radke said. “It is possible they could be stolen and (the customer) wouldn’t be aware of it.”

Police warned residents not to investigate or tamper with the boxes themselves.

“Those lines have electricity running through them, so just contact your cable provider if you think there’s something wrong with your service,” Radke said.

Livingston police said similar thefts have been reported in other areas of Merced and Stanislaus counties.

Merced police Capt. Tom Trindad said the city received similar reports in the past with Comcast cable boxes, but not recently. Trindad said the city has recently been hit with a series of copper thefts, as thieves are targeting streetlights in underpopulated subdivision areas.