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The Blotter

The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

June 9, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Thieves climbing poles to steal copper wire

Posted by Susan Gilmore

Thieves are going to greater lengths -- heights, actually, to steal copper wires.

They're climbing telephone poles to reach the wires, according to the King County Sheriffs Office.

Thieves have struck at least three times in the past five weeks:

-- On May 2, about 250 feet of telephone cable was cut down from poles in SeaTac, affecting at least 330 telephone customers.

-- On May 11, about 330 feet of cable was cut along 156th Avenue Northeast in unincorporated King County, affecting more than 300 customers.

-- On June 2, about 150 feet of cable was cut down in Burien on June 2.

"The cost is more than financial, as these outages impact customer service and safety," said Sue Anderson, vice president and general manager of CenturyLink (formerly Qwest), in a news release.

In a warning message, the sheriff's office said legitimate line workers will be driving branded vehicles and will be wearing CenturyLink or Qwest clothing. They also will have typical safety equipment such as orange vests and hard hats. There also will be traffic signs put out and flaggers if the road is blocked.

Detectives believe the stolen wire is sold to metal recyclers. By law, scrap metal recyclers are required to collect records of each transaction, including the license plates and description of the vehicles used to deliver the metal along with government-issued identification from the seller.

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