Motorists are quick to blame solo drivers, out-of-sync traffic lights and an improving economy for San Francisco Bay area traffic gridlock.
But copper thieves are a hidden culprit in the commuting mess.
They tear out copper wiring powering metering lights, traffic signals and freeway electronic signs.
The San Jose Mercury News says 59 meters have been vandalized in the bay area in the past year.
The California Department of Transportation has replaced wiring for 18 of those meters at a typical cost of $35,000 each.
And it can take up to four months to make repairs.
Copper can fetch up to $4 a pound at recycling facilities.
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