2 arrested after attempted theft of copper at Marysville radio tower

MARYSVILLE — When Deb Whitford glanced at the screen, she first saw the magnified body of a spider on the camera lens.

Her attention soon was diverted from arachnid to anomaly.

A man with long hair, no shirt and bolt cutters walked into the frame. He most certainly didn’t belong.

Whitford, a lead dispatcher for SNOPAC 911, contacted Marysville police to alert them that someone had broken into an emergency radio communication tower in the 8800 block of 64th Street NE.

Surveillance cameras have been in place at emergency communication towers across Snohomish County following a spate of break-ins in recent years by scrap metal thieves searching for copper.

Two north Snohomish County men, both in their 50s, were arrested Monday night and booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of burglary and malicious mischief.

Kurt Mills, SNOPAC’s executive director, hopes that news of the arrests will stop others from targeting the towers.

SNOPAC came to an agreement with the Snohomish County Emergency Radio System, which maintains the towers used by all of the county’s police and fire agencies. SNOPAC would monitor the live feeds if their partners would install the cameras.

The Marysville camera literally was gathering cobwebs, but that didn’t stop dispatchers from continuing to monitor the tower.

“The camera is there day after day and night after night,” Smith said. “Nothing ever happens. Then one night it does. And bingo. We have got them.”

The burglary occurred just before 9 p.m.

One of the men cut the fence outside the tower. It is used for radio communication among police and fire agencies as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy.

Unlike most 911 calls, Whitford wasn’t just relaying information, she was seeing it first hand and reporting her observations.

Getting information “in real time was instrumental in terms of making the arrests,” said Marysville police Lt. Mark Thomas.

The first officer arrived within five minutes and soon was joined by five others, Thomas said. They were able to surround the tower grounds and move in without the suspects knowing they were there.

Police found the men’s bicycles hidden under some straw near the main gate to the tower.

Thomas said the burglars put themselves and others at risk. Besides the possibility of serious injury from cutting live wires, there is the risk of knocking out emergency communications for people who might be needing immediate medical care, he said.

The thefts also can be expensive. By one estimate, it could cost more than $10,000 to fix the damage caused on Monday night.

Nationally, scrap metal theft costs about $1 billion annually in materials and repairs, according to one study.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

They chose the longshot candidate to fill a vacant seat

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick will serve as representative for the 39th legislative district.

Definitely not Christmas in July for parched young trees

“I live in Washington. I should not have to water a Christmas tree,” says one grower. But they did.

Marysville babysitter faces jail time in infant’s death

Medical experts differed over whether it was head trauma or illness that caused the baby to die.

Whether cheers or jeers, DeVos appearance will rouse spirits

Trump’s secretary of education is coming to Bellevue to raise money for a pro-business think tank.

Superior Court judge admits DUI on freeway

Prosecutors recommend a “standard” penalty for Marybeth Dingledy, who “is terribly sorry.”

Self-defense or murder? Trial begins in shooting death

Explanations as to why a man was shot in the back on a Bothell cul-de-sac are starkly different.

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Alliance plans meeting to discuss future of the Everett Station

Key themes are economic development, parking, green space, safety, and transportation connections

Front Porch

EVENTS Chicken dinner time Seniors serve up a family-style chicken dinner from… Continue reading

Most Read