Copper wire thieves hit Federal Way stadium, parks

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Copper wire thieves hit at least three places in Federal Way late this week, including the stadium where a Friday night game had to be played Saturday instead.

The thefts have cost that city nearly $80,000 just this year.

It likely didn't matter much to Decatur High's football team that this game was played in the light of a Saturday afternoon. After all, they crushed Kent-Meridian.

And the news spread quickly as to why they weren't playing under the Friday night lights.

"Something happened with the wires in the field, so they had to have it today in the daylight," said Denise Banks, whose nephew plays for Decatur.

Federal Way Memorial Field facilities manager Bob Vaughan discovered Thursday that the lights weren't working at all.

"I went to turn the lights on about six o'clock," Vaughan said. "And they're always really reliable. And they didn't come on."

Then he and a police officer walked around the stadium and discovered the copper wire had been stolen.

"I think it's horrendous," he said. "It cost the school district, probably, I don't know, between the people he had to pay here that had to go home early and whatnot, all the confusion, the equipment."

Moreover, the thieves hit two parks, too, including Steele Lake.

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell estimates copper wire thieves have cost this city $60,000-$80,000 this year alone.

"It's happened with our street lights," Ferrell said.

He interrupted his Saturday to talk about his plans to meet Monday with public works, parks and police to figure out ways to tackle this vexing issue.

"One of the reasons why I wanted to come talk to you today is because we really need the public's assistance," Ferrell said. "If they see somebody at a sports field or by a light facility out and about, they need to call. Because we need to catch these people in the act."

And he predicts they will be caught.

"Whether it's cameras, alarms and the assistance of the public, we'll get them," he predicted.

School officials say they will repair the lights. So they should be working Monday as well as next weekend.

Anyone who knows anything about the thefts is asked to call police at 253-835-6799.

The crime is similar to another copper theft, that shut off the lights at Edmonds Stadium last week. Those lights have now been fixed. See that full story below.

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