Copper thieves leave Olympia neighborhood dark

by: Chris Francis Updated:

A neighborhood in Olympia will have some dark streets for a while after $7,500 worth of copper wire was stolen from new street lamps this week.

Nearly a dozen streetlights along 18th Avenue SE between Craig Road and Karen Frazier Road in Olympia are now out of service. The city will be stuck with the bill to replace approximately 5,000 feet of wire.

It's the second time in the last year thieves have struck in this neighborhood.

Bernie Ryan has lived on the block for 17 years and was surprised and disappointed.

"All that new work down there to create bike lanes and parking strips and give us sidewalks so it's pedestrian and bike friendly, it's all tied into those lights," Ryan said.

The crooks do their work in the middle of the night. They break into the base of the lamp and strip out the wire. It's dangerous, but once the thieves get their hands on the wire police say it's easy to sell it to a recycler.

"There's no way to identify the copper wire that comes from the city as opposed to anywhere else, so it's very difficult to catch the thieves," said Olympia Police Department spokesperson Laura Wohl.

The Olympia Public Works department says it will take about a month to get the lights working again. Police will be stepping up patrols in the area, hoping to catch the thieves in the act.