It’s nice to have a happy ending to this otherwise sad story.
A few years ago some college students stole a bunch of stop signs for dorm decorations. This resulted in a couple of fatal collisions. The students were charged with and convicted of murder. I dont recall the degree but it was probably pled to manslaughter. They went to prison. It occurs to me that any fatalities along the dark sections could and should be prosecuted as murder. Perhaps a few high-profile prosecutions might stem the tide.
When the cost of copper was really high, I gave all the scraps from a building I built to one of the laborers. The scrap people wouldnt buy it. I had to provide him with a note and a copy of my receipt so he could sell it. The buyer was afraid to be prosecuted for receiving stolen goods. Perhaps thats another way to stop the thefts. I know it works with pawn shops as they used to be the fences for all the local thefts. As far as I know pawn shop fencing has stopped too.