Lights out at Indio Golf Course

Copper thieves knocked out power

Indio, Calif. - Golfers at Indio municipal are teed off at an out of bounds move by copper wire thieves.

"I think it's terrible," Cathy Wormald said after finishing her round. "People should go get jobs."

The 18-hole, par 3 course is a popular one for its low green fees of $25 for 18 holes, and the lights that allow for night golf. Usually the course is open until 10 p.m. seven days a week, but the lights have been dark for two weeks.

"Christmas Eve we had some bad Santa's come in and pull some copper wire from our golf course," General Manager Jim Curtis said. "I got the call for my Christmas present on Christmas morning that our power was totally out at the golf course."

Back-up power was put in place for the pro shop, and the course has stayed open during the day. They haven't been able to water the grass because there's no power for the water pumps, but most of the grass remains green.

"It is a major issue," Curtis said. "When you look at the damage and see what they got for a few hundred dollars is what we're estimating. Twenty times that in repairs for the golf course. It's gonna hit us hard."

Copper theft is a growing trend. There are no suspects in this hit that authorities say appears to be planned out and professional.

"It is a challenge because of trying to prove identification," Indio Police Department Spokesman Ben Guitron said of catching copper thieves. "Most of the thefts, lately, it's not your everyday person. It's people that know what they're doing. Especially when they get into electrical systems where there's high voltage."

Guitron says copper sells for $3.76 a pound, and that it's easy to take out of the area to sell. He also says its hard for reputable recyclers to know if something brought to them has been stolen.

"If you get a length of wire that's been stripped and it's just copper, it's very difficult to prove because there are no identifying marks," Guitron said.

Guitron says the best way to stop copper theft is to protect it.

"Do what you can to limit the access or alarm the access," he said. "Do everything you can to deter it. We figure that is the best that we can advise the public."

Curtis said he's meeting with an alarm company at the golf course on Wednesday.

"They've got some suggestions and they have done some alarm type issues with some other golf courses too," Curtis said.

Insurance adjusters visited the Indio golf course Tuesday morning to survey the damage that Curtis estimates at around $20,000. He hopes to get the water back on and the night lights running again before the end of the week.

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