Copper wire thieves hit Snohomish County neighborhood, knocking out street lights

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. -- The search is on for thieves who stole thousands of dollars worth of copper wire from neighborhoods in Snohomish County.

Steve Yandl volunteers for his homeowners association, doing what he can to make sure his neighborhood is as safe as it can be. So he was concerned when he started getting complaints about the street lights being out near Willis Tucker Park, about 3 miles east of Mill Creek.

“There are a lot of trees right around there, through the park. So it was pitch black, for people walking to the bus stop early morning and late at night.”

He alerted Snohomish County Public Works, thinking they just had to check their wiring. But they found out the wiring was gone.

“What we've calculated is 20,000 lineal feet of copper wire has been stolen,” says Deputy Public Works Director Owen Carter.

The thefts happened along Puget Park Drive and part of Cathcart Way, leaving about two miles of roadway in the dark.

“That’s a lot of copper wire,” says Yandl. “I don't know how they do it, when they're kind of in view. There is traffic that goes along where they had to pull that wire.”

Crews have already started repairs, but it will take another week to replace all the stolen wire. It will cost about $12,000, money that could have gone to other road projects in the county.

“As a taxpayer, it's pretty annoying. And they're probably not getting that much out of it,” says Yandl.

Since there are no markings on copper wire, it’s hard to trace. Scrapyards can’t always tell if it’s been stolen.

Sheriff’s deputies say they will step up patrols in the area, to try and prevent future thefts. They’re also asking the public to be alert, like Yandl.

“As a neighborhood, we're probably better off than most. But there still is stuff that goes on, and it's costly to all of us. So it still behooves us to watch out for each other.”

This is the first time Snohomish County Public Works has had a copper wire theft. They’re now checking the boxes that hold the wire and adding more locks to secure them.