Quick action by the Seattle Police Department, working in cooperation with Seattle City Light and the Portland, Ore., Police Department, led to the arrest of four suspects involved in the theft of scrap copper from the utility’s South Service Center and the reported recovery of the stolen items.
“The swift work of the Seattle detective and supporting officers assigned to this case and from the Portland Police Department is impressive,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “This is a fine example of interdepartmental cooperation at its best. The investigative team working on this case is top tier and I am very thankful for their exemplary efforts.”
On Tuesday, April 23, Seattle City Light was the victim of an alleged scam where two individuals contacted the utility claiming they were from the Cherokee Nation and were seeking a small amount of scrap copper for a nonprofit that assisted disabled children. The alleged perpetrators were allowed access by City Light into the South Service Center and left with about 40,000 pounds of insulated scrap copper wire on four wooden pallets. The material has an estimated worth of about $120,000.
“This was outstanding work on the part of our detectives, working with Portland, to quickly solve this crime,” Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said. “While there is more work to be done on this case, the cooperation between investigators was instrumental in making these arrests quickly.”
There are many questions surrounding this incident that remain unanswered. City Light immediately contacted the Seattle Police Department, which began its investigation. Working with the Portland Police Department, four people were arrested on Thursday – two adults and two juveniles. Police also found the two trucks used in the operation. One truck was found at a Portland metal recycling facility, along with the suspects, and the other in Milton, Wash.
Seattle City Light is conducting a review of its security procedures and its internal control processes at its salvage yard at the South Service Center. The utility continues to collect information about the incident, including what kind of representation the individuals made while on City Light property.
City Light cautions customers and other utilities to guard against scams, including con artists who are claiming to represent a nonprofit organization but who are in search of scrap metal for personal profit. If a customer believes he or she has been contacted by a con artist, they are urged to contact the Seattle Police Department at (206) 625-5011 to report the incident.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.