Crimes once thought of as more of a rural, farming problem, are creeping into the city. Metal thefts are up. Things like copper wiring, manhole covers, even air conditioners are being stolen and recycled for cash.
Dangling lines and gutted casings are what 17 News found at the Fairfax Street bridge over the railroad tracks. Metal thieves stole the wire, cutting the electricity and leaving the overpass and the one at Oswell Street, in the dark.
Kern County Roads Director, Craig Pope, says his department has seen an increase in thefts of all things metal.
"We're seeing wire disappear. We're seeing manholes disappear. We're seeing what we call lamp holes disappear. And, these cause a great deal of safety for the public because if you are driving down the road and all of a sudden there's a hole there, that's a problem," said Pope.
And, it's a costly problem. Pope says the mile of wire stolen at the overpasses will cost about $60,000 to replace. And, the thieves will likely only get ten percent of its worth recycling it.
The owner of Abbey Carpet Store told 17 News in January, thieves gutted air conditioning units on top of his strip mall. It left business owners there with a $5,000 to $7,000 bill.
Undercover Detective, Mark Jackson, is part of the Rural Crimes division at the Sheriff's Department and focuses on metal thefts.
"More individuals are remaining out of custody because of A.B.109 and we see a theft increase," said Jackson.
Detective Jackson says metal crimes are up in the last year. And, Bakersfield police say they've been noticeably worse the last six to eight months.
Crooks who have typically been stealing from ag and oil land are carrying their crimes into urban areas.
"I'm not surprised," said Jackson. "Anywhere where metal is not locked down, is an easy opportunity to steal it and they will."
Detective Jackson and Bakersfield police say most thieves will take the metal out of the county since recyclers in Kern County work closely with them. But, they say most serve little time when caught. The BPD says the last suspect arrested served just three weeks of a 180-day sentence.