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$40k in copper stripped from building

About $40,000 worth of copper was stolen from a business in Spokane Valley last weekend.

A manager of a building in the 4600 block of East Sprague Avenue that's used as a trailer storage told a sheriff's deputy on Monday that he noticed insulation on the floor on Saturday but assumed it was because of the age of the building.

But when he returned on Monday, he saw electrical wire missing from the ceiling and realized all copper wiring inside the walls and ceiling of the building had been stolen. All copper piping in the building was missing as well.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check (509) 456-2233.
  

City worker helps nab theft suspect

A city water department employee led police to two burglary suspects recently when he took a cellphone photo of the license plate of a suspicious vehicle.

Lawrence Tieken saw the 1995 Ford flat-bed truck parked at a City of Spokane pump house at North Havana Street and East Wellesley Avenue last Monday, then observed a younger man and woman exit the roof access of the pump house.

Thousands of dollars in copper wire was missing from the pump house.

Tieken took photos of the culprits, but they covered their faces just in time. But he was able to photograph the truck's rear license plate.

Police identified the truck's owner, and the Patrol Anti-Crime Team identified Cody A. Cabo, 19, as an associate.

Cabo was contacted Wednesday in the 3900 block of North Market Street after citizens reported a man on drugs. He admitted to the burglary, according to court documents, and said “Hillyard girl” named Nicky told him the pump house was filled with metal and copper, which can be sold at recycling centers.

Cabo faces charges of second-degree burglary and malicious mischief.

Thieves strip home of copper piping

Thieves stripped a near-empty north Spokane home of copper piping on Tuesday, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

A neighbor who watches the home in the area of 8700 N. Country Homes Blvd. said the home appeared normal when he left for work about 5 a.m., but when he returned about 4 p.m., the garage door would not open.

He saw several items piled on the floor. Sheriff's deputies say thieves forced their way into the home and tore copper piping from the laundry room and bathroom walls, as well as from a crawl space and from the basement ceiling. Dry wall was damaged extensively.

Another neighbor said he drove past the home about 7 a.m. and saw two men on opposite sides of the street wearing hoodies and carrying large garbage bags.

The man said he saw an older gray Ford van parked on Weipert Road that he'd never seen before. The first three digits of the license plate possibly were 730.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Related coverage:

Dec. 23: Suspected copper thieves had business licenses
  

Wire theft knocks out power; tips sought

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that led to the arrest of those responsible for a wire theft at an Avista substation that left thousands without power.

The thief or thieves cut cooper ground wires and stole portions, resulting in about $10,000 in damage.

The theft occurred about 2 a.m. Jan. 9 at the substation at 7182 N. Huetter Road. A ground wire burnt through because of short circuiting, which crews said likely scared the thief or thieves away.

The culprits “could easily have been electrocuted,” Avista crews told sheriff's deputies, according to a report.
Metal thefts cost local businesses thousands of dollars and are common because drug addicts can sell the stolen material for considerable amounts of money.

A band of alleged thieves in Spokane County even obtained legal business licenses to aid in their criminal enterprise. Read more here.

Anyone with information on the wire theft in Kootenai County is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Copper Wire Thief Lucky Not Killed

The thief or thieves who stole 25 feet of copper wire from a fenced, locked substation on Huetter Road Monday morning were lucky they weren't allocated, according to a Coeur d'Alene police report. The thief may have been spooked when a ground wire burnt through as a result of the short-circuiting caused by the missing wire, according to Avista crews. Avista crew members speculate the theft occurred between 1 and 2 a.m. because the system became unstable at that time. The theft knocked out power to about 5600 Avista customer as well as to traffic lights on Highway 95, Northwest/Ramsey, and Atlas Road. Investigating officer found copper wire cut away in at least eight areas, some cleanly and some ragged, indicating the thief didn't have proper equipment. Avista has yet to make a damage estimate but repair workers speculated replacement costs in the thousands of dollars. The substation was enclosed by high, chain-link fence, topped by barbed-wire strands. Complete KCSD report here.

Theft suspects had business licenses

These entrepreneurs probably won’t be in the running for a business leadership award anytime soon.

Police say a band of suspected metal thieves created a Spokane-based business, complete with licenses from the Washington Department of Revenue, to get around state laws designed to discourage theft by making it tougher for individuals to sell stolen metal to scrap yards. The state exempts licensed businesses from the mandatory 10-day waiting period for payments of over $30 on scrap metal sold to recyclers.

The licenses for the alleged criminal enterprises We Do It and CWRT - Copper Wire Removal Team - aren’t fraudulent because there’s no process to obtain them other than filling out an application and paying the $15 fee, said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the Washington Department of Revenue.

Read the rest of my story here.

Metal thefts reported in Spokane Valley

Here's a dispatch from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Copper tubing valued at $700 was stolen this week from a railroad engine parked in the 11000 block of East Sprague, the owner reported to Crime Check.

The victim said he is modifying the engine to be a railroad education center and that the tubing supplied water to restrooms located inside the railroad engine.  He said he knew of no potential suspects.

Anyone with information should call Crime Check at 456-2233.

And on a Related Note…

A representative of AT&T Mobile reported the theft of copper ground cable from a cellular tower site in the 2600 block of North Robie Thursday.

The thief cut a hole through security fencing and stole the roll containing 200 feet of cable which was valued at $2,000 to $3,000.

Anyone with information….

Police recover $10k+ in stolen tools

More than $10,000 in stolen tools was recovered from a Spokane Valley storage unit today.

Detective Mark Renz believes the tools were stolen by Todd E. Hickman, 45, of Spokane, who was arrested Aug. 28 after police found him inside a vacant home looking for copper wire to steal, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Hickman was released after charges weren't filed within 72 hours, but a felony burglary charge was filed in connection with the case Thursday.

Detectives also have probable cause to arrest Hickman for second-degree burglary after a search today at the Spokane Mini-Warehouse in the 4500 block of East Trent Avenue revealed $10,000 to $15,000 worth of tools, including rolling tool cabinets, stolen from Acme Machine Works, 60121 E. Sharp Ave., on Aug. 1, police said.

  

Scrapper arrested for Valley burglary

Here's a news release from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Officers arrested a 45-year-old Spokane man Sunday after they caught him inside a vacant house apparently looking for copper wire to steal. 

At 1:30 p.m., a man called to report a suspicious vehicle parked behind his mother’s vacant East Broadway home.  Officers Brian Hert and Chan Erdman approached the home and noted “No Trespassing” signs on both the front and back doors.

The two ordered the person they heard inside the home to exit and Todd E. Hickman walked out.  He acknowledged not knowing the owner of the home.

Hert’s investigation revealed that Hickman was on his way to the East Broadway Wal-Mart when he noticed two vacant homes across the street and decided to enter. 

Hert checked Hickman’s truck and found a large amount of copper wire in the back.  He also saw pieces of copper plumbing and a crowbar, hacksaw and other hand tools.

The officer determined that much of the wire had come from a vacant house just east of where they found Hickman.  Although they were unable to contact the owner of that home, they did establish that the suspect had cut and removed the power cord from the home’s electrical dryer.

Hert drove Hickman to the Spokane County Jail and booked him on a single count of Residential Burglary.

Reward offered for tips on Avista theft

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that solve a burglary in which two Spokane-area companies lost more than $5000 in copper wire and power tools.

The crime is believed to have occurred between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday at an Avista Utilities storage site at 2400 N. Dollar Road in Spokane Valley.

Employees believe the thief or thieves cut a padlock from a gate and backed a vehicle into the lot, then removed more than $3,000 in items from five Avista work trucks using a wheelbarrow.

Bouten Construction, which also stored items at the site, lost several power tools valued at about $2,000, including two Skil circular saws, two roto hammers and two cordless battery charges.

Anyone with information on is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

$5k in tools, copper wire stolen at Avista

Someone stole more than $5,000 worth of tools and copper wire from an Avista Utilities storage site in Spokane Valley early Wednesday.

Employees at 2400 N. Dollar Road believe the thief or thieves cut a padlock from a gate and backed a vehicle into the lot, then removed more than $3,000 in items from five Avista work trucks using a wheelbarrow.

Bouten Construction, which also stored items at the site, lost several power tools valued at about $2,000, including two Skil circular saws,  two roto hammers and two cordless battery charges.

Based on the amount of snow accumulated in footprints, police believe the break-in likely occurred sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Felon with copper wire triggers investigation

Detectives are trying to locate the owner of a large amount of copper and aluminum wire seized from a longtime felon last week.

Metal has been increasingly targeted by drug-addicted thieves in the last few years because it can be sold for cash at scrap yards.

So when police found William L. Moore, 44, with gloves, flashlights, saw tools and more than 70 feet of aluminum and copper wire after a traffic stop at Argonne Road and Sinto Avenue on May 4, they figured he was up to something criminal.

Read the rest of my story here.