High prices paid for scrap metal – especially copper – have taken their toll on Sarasota County. The latest estimate by county officials claims that thefts of copper wiring from county-owned street lights adds up to some seventeen and a half MILES of wire. Thieves have also made off with storm grates, park plumbing fixtures and manhole overs. Replacement costs now figure into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To combat the problem, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says its recent Operation Meltdown II targeting secondary recyclers who buy scrap metal has resulted in 935 pounds of copper seized and 128 citations. There were 18 arrests.