Copper thieves leave Starfire stadium dark for small college tournament

Half of the lights at the Starfire Sports complex were dark.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Copper thieves stole thousands of feet of heavy wire from Tukwila's Starfire Sports Complex, leaving some of the fields in the dark and the scoreboard with no power.

The theft left organizers of a college championship college soccer tournament scrambling to reschedule night games to daylight hours, while cancelling conference all-star games. Friday's double overtime match between Highline and Walla Walla women's teams extended into the sunset hours, with only half of the field under lights.

"I thought 'holy smokes,' I hope this doesn't go any longer, because this could be interesting," said Marco Azurdia, the executive director of the Northwest Athletic Conference, which represents small colleges across several states.

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This heavy wire which powers all the lights at the complex, was targeted by thieves overnight Tuesday, and the burglars came back again to steal even more on Thursday around one a.m.

1000 feet of the cable can weigh as much as 640 lbs.

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"They can come through and break the tops off the electrical covers," said Starfire's Sean Englin. "They just start cutting the wires and they start pulling them out."

On Thursday, thieves were seen on Starfire surveillance turning off banks of lights while they cut the cables below them.

"They actually cut the lights while they were live," Azurdia said. "Somebody knows what they're doing, and to me that's even more scary. These people really know what they're doing."

Starfire, which operates as a non-profit business, were facing expensive bills from electricians to get several banks of lights back on Friday.

"We had gobs of kids here last night and some of them couldn't practice because there was no lights on three of the fields," Englin said.

"We cannot have this happen again, and Starfire's going to take measures now, but it's a big problem.''