The San Francisco Chronicle had this story about the problem metal thefts are becoming for public agencies like the Bay Area Rapid Transit system or BART. A recent theft on a BART transportation project caused a $500,000 loss and a 10 month delay after thieves stole cables for their copper.
BART officials said they intend to spearhead a task force on metal theft in hopes of reducing a problem vexing numerous public agencies, utilities and businesses, costing millions of dollars a year.
One potential partner: Vallejo, where city officials said Tuesday that thieves have stripped copper wire from 77 streetlights and signal lights at five intersections since May. The cash-strapped city has been unable to replace much of the wiring, plunging some streets into darkness and forcing three of the intersections to be turned into four-way stops.
The thefts in the bankrupt city of Valejo has left traffic signals out after thieves stealing $25 worth of copper are causing tens of thousands in damages that the city can't afford to fix.
The piece goes on to quote Brandon Kooi who authored the Problem Oriented Policing Center POP Guide The Problem of Scrap Metal Theft. This POP Guide is a good place to start if you are trying to develop a problem oriented policing strategy for dealing with metal thefts in your area.