It is common practice in some cities for copper piping and wire to be plundered from public facilities, homes and building site. The copper is resold as scrap.
In the 1990s, over 200 metres of copper lighting cable was stolen from alongside the tracks of a New York subway, causing an overload which disrupted train services for several hours. Theft of cable remains undetected until a breakdown occurs.
In 2001, an optical fibre cable connecting the U.C. Berkeley campus with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, was cut, apparently by vandals trying to "salvage" copper from other nearby cables. The broken fibre carried data and voice connections for the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) where the SETI@Home project is located. The millions of participants helping to analyse data were unable to contact the SETI@Home servers for several days.