After suffering from the theft of copper wiring and the vandalism to several lamps, some Bridle Ridge residents now fear becoming victimized when using the walking trails after dark or their property becoming vulnerable due to lack of illumination.
Bridle Ridge resident Mike Olander said that over the last year thieves have hit the numerous light bollards that line the walking trail that borders the north side of the development. Since the theft, the bollards have not been replaced leaving the trail unlit despite more than sufficient funds in their lighting and landscape account.
Bridle Ridge residents pay $1500 on their annual property taxes that goes toward the Bridle Ridge Lighting and Landscaping Maintenance Fund.
“Where’s my $1500 going?” asked Olander. “There’s money in the account and it’s a safety issue.”
In addition to the safety of the trails, Olander said that because of the lack of lighting several suspicious persons have been seen on the trail during late evening and early morning hours. He pointed out three houses in his neighborhood that have been the victim of late night thefts and burglaries.
“If the trails stay dark, we’re giving these people ample opportunity to come back and do more damage and commit more crimes,” said Olander. “We shouldn’t have to live here afraid.”
Olander said he met with Oakdale City Manager Steve Hallam about his concerns. He said that during the meeting, Hallam reviewed the development’s special account and told him there was over a $370,000 balance.
Mike Strike, also a Bridle Ridge resident, said he called the police department about a month ago when he saw thieves tampering with one of the unlit pollards. He said there was a quick response by Oakdale PD, but the thieves had fled prior to the police arrival.
“Without the lights on, it’s nerve racking knowing there’s people walking out there late,” Strike said.
Strike felt that the city wasn’t repairing or replacing the lights for fear that they would just be damaged or vandalized again. He said the light wiring has been getting stolen for more than two years.
Other landscaping concerns from the residents were that holes were cut in fences to allow access to the railroad tracks and decorative river rock has been stolen from street islands.
Oakdale Public Works Director Joe Leach said he was aware of the theft of wire and damage to the Bridle Ridge Trail.
Leach reported that thieves have taken approximately 2 ½ miles of copper wire from the trail lights and the city has only been able to replace 800 feet. The city is in the process of receiving quotes for the balance of the work that will be presented to the city council for approval in early April. After a contractor is selected, the project should take three weeks to complete.
Leach also said that theft-blocking measures are being taken with modifications to the pole boxes and the pollards to prevent access to the wiring boxes.
Last year the city replaced the chain link fence along the railroad track with a higher gauge link.
Wire theft is a nationwide, billion-dollar problem. Thieves steal the wire, strip the casing, and sell the copper to scrap dealers. The damage left behind and the cost of replacement far exceeds the amount paid for the scrap.
Anyone with information about the thefts or vandalisms or who witnesses suspicious activity on the Bridle Ridge trail should call the Oakdale Police Department at 847-2231.