Report Broken Street Lights

Report broken or non-working street lights, traffic signals, or traffic signs by calling 651-266-9777 or using the online form.

Report Broken Lights

Minnesota's New Copper Metal Legislation

In 2024, the City of Saint Paul successfully led new state legislation co-authored by Senator Pappas and Representative Hollins to curb the selling of stolen copper metals. Beginning on January 1, 2025 the new legislation will:

  • Require any person who is selling copper metal to have a $250 annual license issued by the state. Persons licensed to perform trades work can sell copper metals with their existing valid license.
  • There will be two dedicated days each year (the first Friday of April and October) that people without a license can sell copper metals to recyclers and earn up to $25.
  • Allow residents and businesses to still recycle copper materials with scrap metal companies for free.

The goal of this new legislation is to try to reduce the market demand and reselling of stolen materials. 

Proposed Legislation and Wire Theft Flyer

Increase in Copper Wire Theft - Not Just Street Lights

The City of Saint Paul Department of Public Works maintains more than 37,000 street lights and 32,000 light poles throughout Saint Paul. Street lights are a critical part of the City’s infrastructure because they provide illumination for safe pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle access within the City right of way (sidewalks, boulevards, and streets). Street lights can also serve as a general deterrent for unlawful activities. 

In recent years, the City of Saint Paul has experienced an exponential increase of both new and reoccurring copper wire theft from street light fixtures both in city right of way and parks. The theft areas have drastically expanded from a few, regular targeted street lights in isolated areas to now impacting the entire city, including public and private infrastructure such as:

  • Park trails and parking lots
  • Major arterial and collector streets
  • Traffic signals
  • EV charging stations
  • Street lights
  • Ground access panels
  • Utility vaults
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Private businesses and homes

The City of Saint Paul is not unique in dealing with rampant wire theft from public and private infrastructure. Other Minnesota cities, municipalities, and utilities are reporting increase in copper wire thefts. In all parts of the country, wire theft is a growing issue.

Stealing the wire from the street lights is not a victimless crime. Stealing the wire and damaging street lights is illegal and leaves many of our neighborhoods, roadways, and parks dark for extended periods of time. Stealing wire is dangerous. Saint Paul is leaving more lights on, or energized, during the day to deter theft. When stealing wire, thieves often do significant additional damage to the internal conduits, external base, and entire system which takes additional time, resources, and costs to be repaired and replaced.

Saint Paul Continues to Address Ongoing Wire Theft

In 2023, city staff put additional resources to repair and replace street lights that were damaged due to wire theft, only to have the new wire stolen again within a matter of hours. More areas of Saint Paul remain dark as we cannot repair and replace the wire as fast as it is being stolen.

Led by Mayor Carter’s office, Saint Paul Public Works, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Department of Safety and Inspections, Saint Paul Police Department, and City Council have been working together on a comprehensive approach towards a long-term, sustainable solution to prevent and deter wire theft, including a new copper metal legislation to make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen copper materials to recyclers.

The City of Saint Paul is:

  • Responding to and repairing damaged street lights and other public infrastructure, including making sure there are no safety hazards to the public

  • Exploring engineering and infrastructure program changes where possible

  • Increasing public education and engagement efforts, encouraging people to report all suspicious activity to 911

  • Executing all law enforcement and prosecution strategies currently available

  • Collaborating with local, state officials, residents, and businesses to pass new state copper metal legislation 

In 2023, the City of Saint Paul spent more than $1.2 million to repair and replace street lights and signals damaged by copper wire theft. In 2024, the City Council approved an additional $500,000 for Saint Paul Public Works to replace wire. This includes hiring a dedicated seasonal, full-time electrician crew who are repairing damaged street lights and other infrastructure throughout the city.

The following map illustrates 2,000 locations of non-working street lights/wire theft reported by the public in 2023 to the Saint Paul Public Works main information line via phone, web form or email (651-266-6100,

Please Note: This map represents only ONE way that the city gets reports of wire theft.

Map of Wire Theft Reported to Public Works Main Information Line (Phone, Web & Email)

What Can Residents and Businesses Do to Help Prevent Wire Theft?

  1. If you see something, say something. Call 911! Report suspicious behavior or activity around street lights, traffic signals, EV chargers, utility vaults, or private property. With the help of the watchful eyes of Saint Paul residents and business owners, the Saint Paul Police Department has caught and arrested thieves.
  2. Join Camera Watch. Registering your residential or business security camera and coverage information with the Saint Paul Police Department can help create safer neighborhoods for all. Your information is kept confidential. With this voluntary program the police department does not have access to your cameras but keeps a record of active cameras throughout the city. They may reach out to owners if and when needed.

    Register your camera

  3. Reach out to your legislators to thank them for supporting the proposed copper wire legislation and encourage others to as well. 

    Find your legislator

Wire Theft FAQs

Report Broken Alley Lights to Xcel Energy at 1-800-960-6235

Alley lights are installed and maintained by Xcel Energy at the request of adjacent property owners. Property owners arrange for alley lights directly with Xcel Energy. They also pay the cost of installation, maintenance, and operation of any alley lights.

Why Are the Street Lights Purple?

Saint Paul has had several reports of "purple-colored" street lights. This is not intentional by the City, but rather a manufacturer's defect and failure of the LED bulb installed in many of the City's "cobra style" street lights. 

If you see any street lights that have a purplish-hue or color to them, please report the number of street lights and location to Saint Paul's Lighting Division by calling 651-266-9777 or using the online form

Saint Paul Public Works is tracking and replacing the failing LED bulb units as they appear. There is no safety issue, but it is a nationwide manufacturing product issue that is appearing with the Autobahn lights that were installed between 2017 and 2019 as cobra style LED replacements.

Street Lighting LED Conversion

Saint Paul is in the process of converting the street lighting system to modern 3,000 Kelvin (K) Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) technology.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions document for more information.

Last Edited: June 15, 2024