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Poulsbo hit by string of RV power cord thefts; police say metals were the target

POULSBO — Poulsbo was hit by a series of thefts in late May as thieves made off with electrical wires and batteries from area homes.

“It was like a weekend spike that happened,” said Poulsbo Police Chief Alan Townsend. “Obviously, it’s the same person or persons.”

A total of nine theft reports were filed with the Poulsbo Police Department May 31. Two additional reports were filed with the Kitsap Sheriff’s Office from the surrounding area on May 28 and June 3.

The thefts were largely from RVs and similar recreational vehicles parked at Poulsbo homes, or nearby on the street. Thieves set their sights on power cords and batteries from the vehicles.

Police suspect that thieves stole the materials to turn around and sell the metal acquired from them.

“Clearly, by the way they were stealing the stuff, [it] was for the metals, not to reuse the cords,” Townsend said. “They were clipping them off from the RVs or the houses.”

In the end, seven batteries, six power cords, and a surge protector were stolen from Poulsbo area residents. The power cords ranged up to 35 feet in length and were cut clean at the ends leaving the plugs intact. Battery boxes were also cut through to gain access to RV batteries. The total loss of the thefts range up to $750, before repairs.

Four studded tires were also stolen from one vehicle.

The wires and batteries contain metals that can be sold to local recyclers for quick cash.

“Some of the dealers are cooperative and some can be kind of a pain,” Townsend said. “That’s where the problem usually lies for us when tracking (thefts).”

“They figure it out,” he added. “They know where they can go and where they can’t go (to sell stolen metal).

Wires are prime targets for valuable metals.

“There’s a lot of copper in those 30 and 50 amp cords,” said Greg Shaw, service manager with Clear Creek RV Service in Silverdale.

“They strip them down and sell the copper,” he said.

Clear Creek has repaired some of the vehicles from Poulsbo’s recent thefts.

The same goes with batteries, Shaw said, which can be sold for a good price.

A Poulsbo police report mentions Clear Creek as one place to get a cut cord repaired.

“We got this bump from Poulsbo,” Shaw said. “We had about 10 people calling to get estimates; a couple got fixed already.”

Shaw knows about such thefts well. Last winter, he said, thieves stole 12 power cords from the RV center. Clear Creek now has video cameras to catch such thieves.

While the recent spike in metal theft is alarming, Townsend said that such thefts are not common to Poulsbo. They do, however, occur from time-to-time.

Townsend cited an incident in May when a metal thief attempted to steal wires out of street lights in vacant lots behind Poulsbo’s Home Depot. The theft was possibly thwarted by chance, when a patrol officer drove by, he said.

“One of our cops drove through and I suspect he scared them away because he had the wire out in the street, bundled up and ready to go,” Townsend said.

The thief attempted to pull the wire from each light pole.

“There’s boxes in the ground, like junction boxes, and they were not really locked, but secured,” Townsend said. “They popped those open and pulled the wires. They would go to each pole and clip the wires there and pull the wire out between the poles.”

The wire was retrieved, but the city had to pay an engineer to re-install it.

Townsend said metal thefts haven’t been a serious problem in Poulsbo, so far, but he recommends that people install lighting around sensitive areas of their homes.

“We want people to know to be careful, and light up their homes when they can,” he said. “They can get motion-sensor lights or something that is going to help scare off thieves. A lot of this is about a crime of convenience; if they think they can go up to a house quickly and grab it and go, they will.”

He added, “You worry that if it was easy for them the first time, who knows, they might come back. My guess is that it’s buying them some drugs.”

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