Thieves Target Vintage Bronze Light Poles in Pasadena

Working at night, crews used a truck and chains to ram the poles and pull them free. A city official says one pole could fetch $400.
Thieves Target Vintage Bronze Light Poles in Pasadena
A chain hangs from a vintage light pole that thieves failed to swipe in Pasadena. (City of Pasadena)
Beige Luciano-Adams

In a series of brazen thefts, suspects recently managed to make off with nearly a dozen vintage street light poles in Pasadena, police reported April 10.

Using a truck and chains to either ram and dislodge the bronze poles or yank them off their foundations, suspects then dragged their haul off in the darkest hours of night, with four separate incidents occurring over the past 10 days, according to authorities.

In the most recent attempt, suspects fled when a resident called the police, leaving a large rusted metal chain around one of the poles.

“Thieves have no concern for history or aesthetics. They simply want to steal something valuable,” Paul Little, president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, told The Epoch Times via email. “Like copper wire thefts, the criminals saw an opportunity to take unguarded property and sell it to some unscrupulous after-market enterprise.”

The city’s public information officer, Lisa Derderian, said in a statement there is no easy way to vandal-proof the historic fixtures, noting the scrapped bronze would fetch about $400 per pole.

The vintage green light posts, which feature distinctive globe-shaped bulbs and date from the 1920s, illuminate South Orange Grove Boulevard, a wide street with handsome homes where floats line up for the city’s New Year’s Rose Parade every year.

Such incidents have come in waves and are part of a larger trend of copper wire thefts that have hit cities across the Southland in recent years. Around 12 years ago, Pasadena officials say, there was a similar string of thefts targeting the same vintage bronze poles, and then again before the pandemic.

But unlike Los Angeles, where entire stretches of neighborhoods are left in the dark for months on end and the Bureau of Street Lighting is facing a massive repair backlog, Pasadena officials say they can immediately repair outages.

“Our Departments of Public Works and Water and Power are going out the minute they hear about these to service the area so no there is outage to residents,” Pasadena City Councilman Tyrone Hampton told The Epoch Times. He said outages, including due to wire tampering, tend to last no longer than five hours.

He said when the fixtures are replaced, the material will likely be different, as bronze and copper are prohibitively expensive compared to other metals like iron, and are too enticing a lure.

“It will likely be a different material, but it will still look the same because we have the mold, and they’re all painted green,” Mr. Hampton said.

Mr. Little, the chamber of commerce president who is also a former Pasadena City Councilman, said in order for the theft to stop there needs to be “real and significant consequences” for all criminals involved—including those who stole the property and those who purchase from them.

Authorities are still searching for suspects and asking anyone with information to contact the Pasadena Police Department at 626-744-4241 or 800-222-TIPS (8477).

There's no easy way to vandal-proof the historic fixtures, says the city’s public information officer. (City of Pasadena)
There's no easy way to vandal-proof the historic fixtures, says the city’s public information officer. (City of Pasadena)
Beige Luciano-Adams is an investigative reporter covering Los Angeles and statewide issues in California. She has covered politics, arts, culture, and social issues for a variety of outlets, including LA Weekly and MediaNews Group publications. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X: