If you were driving down Main Street, working at your business or just relaxing at home in eastern Hesperia on Tuesday morning, chances are you experienced the hour-long power outage that effectively halted life-as-we-know-it in modern-day Hesperia. The outage, which occurred when Southern California Edison shut off power to the electricity provider's substation near the corner of Sultana Street and G Avenue to repair damage done by wire thieves, was a wake-up call: The wire theft racket has gone too far.

Not knowing when power would be turned back on, the outage seemed to last an eternity for those of us who depend on our computers, telephone and fax machines or - in the case of at least one local health care provider - refrigeration to maintain vials of potentially life-saving immunization serum for its patients.

Despite lasting just an hour and 11 minutes, the event certainly was costly. Take the man-hours lost to local businesses, for instance. Although the exact number of workers in the area is unknown, if 1,000 workers paid an average of $10 an hour were unable to perform their jobs, more than $10,000 in wages and time were lost. That's real money, folks. And lost worker hours is only a part of the picture regarding the financial impact from Tuesday's event.

Wire thieves continue to rape construction projects-in-progress or break into power substations because there are little or no controls on scrap metal dealers and recyclers. Passing laws or enacting local ordinances to control local businesses should be a last resort, but the time has come for the city or county to create laws that do what the state has refused to do: Protect us from the theft of personal property by low-life thieves and a recycling industry unwilling to police itself.

Tom Berryman, a Republican assemblyman from Modesto, which is hard-hit by thieves stealing material from farmers, certainly tried at the state level. Despite receiving support from the State Sheriffs Association, the California Farm Bureau, Southern California Edison, AT & T and others, Berryman's AB 844 was defeated by a State Senate panel in July after a successful lobbying effort by recyclers and junk dealers.

The good news, if there is any, is that the state's unwillingness to deal with the problem throws the issue into the laps of the county and city. And local control is usually the best solution anyway. But it will take a number of localities up and down the state to develop tough laws so a network can be created to thwart the thievery. That's the case because some thieves travel out of their areas to perform wire and material theft.

Tuesday's hour-long power outage may have cost us time, money and peace of mind. But hopefully the event will have a positive outcome and jolt us into action.