Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle – South Park) and her Council colleagues showed unanimous support today to address the spike in theft of copper wire. Six members of the Council added their names as co-sponsors to two Budget Committee requests, offered by Herbold, which will effectively expand reporting on theft and vandalism of city assets, and improve compliance with state-level existing copper wire theft laws citywide.
Herbold learned through the constituent casework of her office that tennis courts and other facilities across the city, such as the West Seattle Bridge, were being burglarized, sometimes repeatedly. She also discovered that these copper wire thefts were not being reported to Seattle Police Department. “Street light repairs are starting to cost what I suspect is a large amount to ratepayers,” said Herbold. In order to prevent continued theft, Seattle City Light (SCL) has moved to re-engineer access points to their street lights and other areas where the neighborhood is experiencing repeated theft, such as under the Spokane Street Viaduct and both under and on the West Seattle Bridge.
Through the fall budget process, Herbold has revealed that the 19 copper wire thefts of Seattle City Light infrastructure has totaled over $650,000 in repair work, and additional thefts in 13 Parks locations, has totaled nearly $100,000. To combat the pervasiveness of this crime, Herbold’s budget actions requests that SPD 1. create a City-wide asset loss approach and 2. report on scrap metal recyclers’ compliance with copper wire laws that require recyclers to keep accurate records of transactions that can be used to deter purchase of stolen metals.