Pierce County crews replaced the wiring that powers six street lights along a half-mile of county road at 38th Street and 192nd Street in Frederickson after discovering two separate incidents of wire theft and vandalism.
The repair work cost the county $8,865 in materials, equipment and labor.
A county signal technician discovered the first theft on June 19 during a routine maintenance inspection of county street lighting. The lids of the junction boxes that hold each light's wiring had been unbolted, and 3,000 feet of wire that provides power to the street lights had been removed.
On June 20 and 21, workers replaced most of the wiring and welded the lids closed on most of the junction boxes to secure them. This incident cost the county $6,701.
When crews returned June 22 to finish the wiring and welding, they discovered that 1,200 feet of wire put in June 21 had been stolen. Crews replaced the wire and welded closed the lids of the remaining junction boxes that day. The second incident cost the county $2,164.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is investigating both thefts. Anyone with information can contact the Tacoma/Pierce County Crime Stoppers at (253) 591-5959. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
They may also call the Pierce County Sheriff's Department's non-emergency number at (253) 798-4721.
Over the past few years, the county has begun welding the lids of junction boxes along stretches of street lights due to periodic wire thefts. Although it makes it more difficult to access the boxes to perform maintenance activities, the welding has proven to be effective for the county, as these are the first thefts in the past five years.
Report lighting problems
The public can call Pierce County Traffic Operations' 24-hour number at (253) 531-6990 to report multiple street light outages. The county is in the process of mounting identification stickers on county-owned light poles that include the light's identification number and the phone number for Traffic Operations. The 24-hour number can also be used to report traffic signal problems and downed roadway signs.
"Street lighting helps keep our county roads safe," said Rick Butner, Public Works and Utilities traffic operations supervisor. "We ask that the community contact our 24-hour number if they notice multiple street lights are out, as this could indicate wire theft. And if you see suspicious activity around light poles or other county facilities, we encourage you to call 911."
Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer(253) 798-2464
Detective Sergeant Jerry Bates, Pierce County Sheriff's Department