Washington and Oregon lead North America in infrastructure vandalism

"They put on a hard hat, they put on a vest, and they put a cone in the road, and they go climb the pole and start cutting cable."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
A quarter of copper wire thefts in North America occur in Washington and Oregon, two states with massive homeless populations. The thefts take down telecommunication networks and put lives at risk.

According to KIRO 7, thieves are cutting cables from phone, cable, and internet providers to sell to local scrap yards for pennies on the dollar.

The outlet also reported that rural areas of Pierce and South King Counties have been suffering from vandals stealing copper from telephone wires.

Copper is at the highest price it has been in a year. Scrap yards will buy copper for approximately $1 to $1.50 a pound and drug addicts will steal and sell the material to fuel their habits. 

Dan Chason, who runs vandalism and anti-theft efforts for Lumen, CenturyLink's parent company, told KIRO 7 that the thefts are putting hospitals and 911 systems at risk. He said, “We had a cut in Bremerton last week that took down the airport,” adding that it also disrupted services “at the Mission Creek Correctional. It’s a prison. It took down their services. I mean, it doesn’t get more serious in that.”

Since January 1, Lumen has had 69 cases of line cutting in Washington state, 36 percent of the cases in North America.

Chason told the outlet that brazen thieves “put a magnetic sign on their vehicle that says, you know, Joe’s cable service. They put on a hard hat, they put on a vest, and they put a cone in the road, and they go climb the pole and start cutting cable.”

In 2022, two Puyallup men even vandalized four power substations that knocked out power to over 30,000 Washington state residents on Christmas in a botched attempt to rob a local store.

Homelessness, crime, and addiction have both skyrocketed in the two Democrat-controlled states, with Governors Jay Inslee of Washington and Tina Kotek of Oregon.

According to a new report from the Department of Commerce, between January 2022 and January 2023, there was a 9 percent increase in homelessness in Washington. The number has been on the rise since 2016.

Fentanyl overdose deaths have also continued to soar.

On Monday, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed House Bill 4002, re-criminalizing the possession of hard drugs in the state and expanding treatment options for those suffering from substance abuse disorders amid an opioid crisis that many have argued has been exacerbated by the lack of legal ramifications for users.
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