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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

$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.
  

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.

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.