PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- Copper has always been a target for thieves, and now they're stealing the metal from devices that watch over drivers while they commute.
the Florida Department of Transportation said thieves stole 13,000 feet worth of copper from a traffic camera last week in Delray Beach.
The estimated damage came to nearly $55,000.00.
FDOT said without a camera signal, technicians at the Transportation Management Center can't watch for traffic backups or accidents and they can't display travel information across dynamic message signs.
"If a camera's not working, we're not able to see an incident that's going on. We could save commuters valuable time and possibly their lives," said Danielle Chapel, Public Information Officer with FDOT.
FDOT said thieves have been stealing copper from traffic cameras in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for years, but with more than 70 cameras along I-95 in Palm Beach County, the trend is moving north.
It is a felony to steal copper from a traffic camera.
Authorities ask people to report suspicious copper thefts by dialing *347 on their mobile device.