PUD reports theft of copper wire

EVERETT — People along Colby Avenue and elsewhere in north Everett woke Monday morning to find the ground wire on power poles near their homes sliced away.

The Snohomish County PUD received about a dozen reports of copper wire theft from the north end of town south to 25th Street in the last few days, said Neil Neroutsos, a PUD spokesman.

Thieves try to sell copper wire to scrap metal recyclers.

“Certainly, the economy continues to be tough,” he said. “The crazy thing is, the value of scrap metal isn’t huge right now.”

Copper wire theft soared in 2005 and 2006 along with the price of scrap metal. When prices dropped, so did the thefts.

Neroutsos said the PUD has seen an uptick in wire thefts across the county this year. In May, thieves sliced wire from about 30 poles in south Everett. For this year, the PUD estimates that it’s had about $4,000 of wiring stolen.

It’s a risky crime that could deliver 7,200 volts of electricity.

“That’s definitely a level that could electrocute and kill someone,” Neroutsos said.

The thefts cost the utility more in time and labor than the cost of the wire, Neroutsos said. Vandalism to PUD property can cost 10 times the value of the actual materials.

It will take several weeks to make the repairs in north Everett, he said.

People need to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.

If neighbors believe people are cutting wire from a pole, it’s best to call police and allow officers to determine if they are authorized utility employees.

And, if people believe copper wire thefts have occurred, they need to call 911 to report the thefts, Goetz said.

Neroutsos said the PUD also would like to know.

“It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last,” Goetz said.

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