Cops Seeking Public’s Help Tracking Down Copper Thieves
The King County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday (June 9) that it is seeking the public’s help in tracking down thieves, who have lately become so brazen that they’re now climbing telephone poles just to steal copper wires.
Detectives believe the stolen wire is sold to metal recyclers who either aren’t asking the right questions, or are looking the other way during these transactions.
Per state law, scrap metal recyclers are required to collect records of each transaction, including the license plate and description of the vehicle used to deliver the metal, along with the current, government issued identification from the seller, along with other checks and balances.
Police say that thieves have struck at least three times in the last five weeks, including in both the Burien and SeaTac areas:
- On June 2nd, about 150 feet of cable was cut down near S. 128th and 12th Ave S. in the city of Burien.
- On May 2nd, about 250 feet of telephone cable was cut down from poles in the 3200 block of S. 162nd St. in SeaTac. At least 330 telephone customers were affected.
- On May 11th, about 330 feet of cable was cut in the 23200 block of 156th Ave NE in unincorporated King County, affecting 300+ customers. The cable was 2” to 3” in diameter and included a guide wire that supported the thick cable.
According to CenturyLink (formerly Qwest), these thefts are happening frequently in the Seattle Metro area, in addition to the cases listed above.
“The cost is more than financial, as these outages impact customer service and safety,” says Sue Anderson, vice president and general manager of CenturyLink in Seattle. “Hospitals, schools, and public safety organizations are all affected as well as residential and business customers. We urge the public to call law enforcement if they see suspicious activity”.
The Sheriff’s Office echoes those concerns, and is asking for the help of the public to stop these thieves.
Legitimate line workers will be driving branded vehicles and wear CenturyLink or Qwest clothing. They will also have typical safety equipment such as orange vests and hard hats. There will be flaggers if the road is blocked plus orange cones and traffic signage.
If the public sees workers without this equipment, acting suspiciously, or working at odd hours, they are asked to call 9-1-1 immediately.