WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Delridge Playfield lights’ power supply hit again

Multiple readers have reported that athletic activities scheduled for Monday evening at Delridge Playfield were canceled because of theft/vandalism affecting the lights – again. We also heard from John, who sent this photo:

John, a retired electrician, explained what he saw while walking around the fields: “Damaged power pipe and cut cables. I called Seattle City Light. Tested cables. which were dead. But still connected to transformer.” That was midday Monday; John subsequently talked to an SCL crew member who, he reported,”said a high voltage crew would be called out to disconnect the cables from the transformer. The parks department will need to call out an electrical contractor to repair the cables from the service drop into the electrical main switch gear.” We’ve been waiting to hear back from Seattle Parks and City Light on a repair timetable. We’ve also asked about what’s being done to prevent recurrences (not only has this happened recently – we even found this story from more than a decade ago.)

33 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Delridge Playfield lights' power supply hit again"

  • Admiral-2009 February 6, 2024 (5:29 pm)

    This is very frustrating, it’s past time the perps and buyers of the illegally obtained metal are made accountable and made to pay the cost to repair the damages.

    I also noticed, and reported it on find it fix it over two weeks ago, that the Tennis Court Lights at Hiawatha Park are not working, not sure what the cause is.  

  • Jort February 6, 2024 (5:33 pm)

    I again ask why the state does not pass a law requiring that payment for all scrap metals (copper wires, catalytic converters, etc.) must be held for 90 days in a state-run escrow account requiring individual registration, along with photo documentation and record-keeping of all scrap metals? Would not the incentive for theft disappear when accountability for the transaction is required? “Oh, look! These are the same wires that were cut from the Delridge Playfield! And, look, John Doe tried to cash them in! Sweet! Let’s go ahead and forward that payment back over to the city to cover some of the cost *and* maybe even arrest John Doe for trafficking stolen material!” And, yes, I know that there are challenges in the prosecution of such a crime but the prosecution isn’t the point: shut off the instant money spigot.

    • Al King February 6, 2024 (6:46 pm)

      Jort. For all your fantastical car rants that are always good for a laugh……..on this comment I agree with you 100%! 99% of all these wire/scrap thefts would end if scrap dealers were held accountable for verifying where the scrap actually came from.

    • ok February 6, 2024 (8:17 pm)

      Because it would cost us millions of dollars to implement and wouldn’t change the value of copper.  Yes it would add an extra step as criminals would need to strip or melt wires, but it’s not that hard. The ones that need quick cash will find a middle man.   I just don’t see much if any benefit to the large cost. 

      • Jort February 6, 2024 (11:06 pm)

        It might be “not that hard” to strip or melt the wire, but it is certainly harder than the current system, which is a laissez-faire open-air market for trafficking stolen goods with absolutely no friction of any kind between the thief and cash. You say it would cost millions of dollars to implement? OK. How many millions of dollars is society already payingdistributed individually because of this?! I know that it is almost unconscionable to the American mind that businesses, themselves, might bear some social responsibility and that they might need to be regulated into meeting that responsibility, but holy cow! We are talking about a thriving market of trafficking stolen goods right out, wide-eyed and open with no barriers at all! Shut off the instant money spigot!  Why do people defend this like it’s an inevitability?! The social costs of this are being borne by victims. Make these companies pay for it! They are making money off of theft FROM YOU! Lots of money!

        • WS Res February 7, 2024 (7:45 am)

          Yeah, where’s our law-and-order contingent? Or should the law only be brought to bear on low-level crime, and not businesses and their owners? Law for thee but not for me?

          • Jort February 7, 2024 (11:47 am)

            They are likely thinking about the approach through the perspective of most Americans: that all illegal behavior can be fully, completely and totally isolated down only to specific illegal behaviors conducted by specific people. This absolves the complex systems in which we operate from feeling any sense of responsibility at making an effort to curtail or prevent the opportunity for illegal behaviors, themselves. What people are clearly too dense to realize is that this approach is, in fact, broken, especially when the only legally viable mechanism for individualized approach to behavioral prevention relies on an unreliable police force that picks and chooses its law enforcement priorities, often based on their present disagreements with the direction of politics in the city they’re meant to serve. In short — people would rather believe that police can solve every societal problem than admit that the market, itself, could be regulated into preventing the behavior. So much so that they’ll tolerate ongoing, brazen, open theft for years and years, blaming Kshama Sawant for it, rather than looking at the businesses who are putting literal cash in the pockets of criminals.  

          • Daniel February 7, 2024 (2:05 pm)

            It makes sense to me.  Just like with the catalytic converters, stepping up enforcement at point of sale more may work. I can’t speak to the particulars of a 90d escrow setup, but something should be possible there.

    • Seth February 6, 2024 (9:21 pm)

      They would just ship it over to a different country like they do with stolen iPhones. Unfortunately if there’s money to be made somebody will find a way to make it

      • Jort February 6, 2024 (11:00 pm)

        I am not arguing that this is a solution to literally end this crime. I am arguing that there needs to be far more barriers between a Home Depot shelf and cash in a pocket. The cash is far too easy to earn, and iPhones are not comparable. iPhones are small and extremely valuable. Transportation and return on investment make this a viable black market opportunity. Copper wires are large and not as valuable. Sure, thieves could yank wires out of electric vehicle chargers, but then they must find a black market broker who will arrange to collect *and store* all of the copper for shipment on a container ship to a different country, arrange for some sort of “payment,” which would be far less than what the scrap shops are offering … do you get what I’m saying? The shipping and storage alone reduce the value to a negligible level. Right now there is a direct cash payment with extremely few barriers for stolen materials. It would be like somebody running a scrap textile business that paid out cash to people who brought in clothes from Nordstrom with the security tags still on them. It’s insane and it CAN be regulated and slowed down.

        • bill February 7, 2024 (8:55 am)

          Extra detail: It’s like the thieves would be clipping the security tags off the clothes in the open on the sidewalk outside the scrap business. It’s entirely normal to find guys brazenly stripping insulation off wire in the dead end of SW Marginal Pl, under the bridge, two blocks from West Seattle Recycling. I once saw a guy stripping a large spool of new wire, with a second spool beside him.

          • Jort February 7, 2024 (11:51 am)

            That is because the scrap metal traffickers are indirectly employing the thieves to perform free labor for them. It would cost more for the businesses to strip the wires. So why not require the thieves to perform that work for them? This, by the way, is not due to regulation — it’s because the “free market” (which provides cash payments to thieves!) is finding an efficiency. This is insane! We can stop this!

  • Peter S. February 6, 2024 (8:47 pm)

    I very rarely agree with Jort, but his idea here has merit.  I once took a dead water heater to our local WS scrapper and had to produce my driver license for photocopying.  I didn’t want any money for the thing.  I just wanted rid of it without having to pay at the transfer station, and it was closer.  My sense was they just wanted my ID so they could claim they actually check people who brought them scrap.

  • Dumbfounded February 6, 2024 (10:19 pm)

    While the people at West Seattle Recycling are nice, they are just enablers. I’ve been in there several times dropping off ferrous material. There are always several folks dropping off disparate chunks of copper in various gauges and lengths. It isn’t salvage, it is fencing stolen material. How’s that keep happening?

    • Alkistu February 7, 2024 (10:37 am)

      As I was riding under the bridge to the West Marginal cycle track, I came across the wire strippers and called it in to the non-emergency Southwest Precinct line.  The fact is that the thieves are stripping the cables within view of West Seattle Recycling.

  • bolo February 6, 2024 (10:39 pm)

    Close-cropped haircut. Looks like they got every last available inch of it they could.

  • The King February 7, 2024 (1:23 am)

    Drugs are the root of this problem. Placing blame on the recycling center is just ignoring the obvious. The people cutting the wires aren’t doing this to make a living, it’s to buy drugs. We don’t need photo id’s, databases and scrap metal piling up for 90 days. Until the drugs are removed from the equation, get used to all of this type of crime. 

    • Lagartija Nick February 7, 2024 (11:02 am)

      The addicts wouldn’t have the money for their drugs if the recycling companies didn’t/couldn’t give it to them for their stolen property.

    • Jort February 7, 2024 (11:40 am)

      If you think we will be more successful at literally eliminating drugs from society than in implementing regulations meant to curtail the trafficking of stolen materials through established regulatory frameworks then I don’t know what to tell you, other than perhaps to Google the phrase “War on Drugs” and perhaps cross-reference that with research on that war effort’s effectivity.  I would think the fact that illegal drugs are, by nature, unable to be regulated would make it obviously clear how much more effective the focus point for regulation of scrap metal commerce would be (hint: it’s the handful of scrap metal businesses. They are the focus point. All of this theft focuses only through them. They are the enablers. ). 

  • valvashon February 7, 2024 (8:48 am)

    I don’t have perspective on the situation from that picture but you could keep all lines energized at all times with disconnects locked in a building.  Put up warning notices to this effect and control the lights via IP switches at the top of the standard where the light is.  Stage and studio lights are controlled this way, there is no reason that field lighting can’t be done the same way.If cables of that size were energized there is no way they could safely be cut in that manner.

  • whataboutthecreedence February 7, 2024 (9:04 am)

    Time for some steel conduit and security cameras apparently.

    • John February 7, 2024 (12:04 pm)

      Steel conduit needs to be installed instead of the schedule pvc .problem solved

  • 937 February 7, 2024 (12:12 pm)

    This would be comical if it weren’t so darned sad!

    You’ve got one frequent commenter railing for yet MORE bureaucracy. More taxes. More regulation more “bad BAD business… No doughnut.” Another commenter describing how to facilitate to engagement of a “middle man” to negate the 1st commenter’s concern about business dealings. Yet another talking about shoplifting and tag removal, in broad daylight. Another stating (fact) these metals are often shipped overseas where they just flat – DO. NOT. CARE.

    It’s as if we ALL know what the problem is…. And we ALL know how to solve it…. But no one DOES anything.

    Let’s ALL vote for the same people (with different names – but the SAME tired ideas) Let’s all hate on the cops. Let’s all give the elected judges (sorry – the incumbent judges) the benefit of the doubt. Let’s ALL do the same thing (over and over and over for 40+ YEARS) and then complain when NOTHING changes for the better and everything gets worse.

    You do you Seattle Voter… Only 30 more months……

    • Lagartija Nick February 7, 2024 (1:30 pm)

      You want to know what hasn’t been tried? Holding businesses accountable when they blatantly traffic in stolen property. Ain’t unregulated capitalism grand!

      • 937 February 7, 2024 (2:18 pm)

        Again….blame business. It ALL their fault.

        I guess we have to regulate something to feel better about ourselves. “Look everyone….we’re doing something!”

        If it’s not going to be drugs and homelessness – might as well be business. Because when you get right down to it…It’s the business’ fault the illicit drug user needs their fix.

        • Lagartija Nick February 7, 2024 (4:32 pm)

          Again, drug addicts wouldn’t have this money for their fix if unscrupulous businesses didn’t enable them by trafficking in stolen property. 

  • ltfd February 7, 2024 (1:42 pm)

    Jail theiving addicts now!

  • Alki Jack February 7, 2024 (5:10 pm)

    Next thieves will be stealing the wires to street lights, stop lights etc. Where does this end. 

  • Neighbor February 7, 2024 (5:35 pm)

    Maybe PVC pipes aren’t the best protector. 🤔

  • Admiral-2009 February 7, 2024 (5:56 pm)

    The new lighting systems consume significantly less kW than in the past and it may be feasible to replace the copper wiring with aluminum wiring.  Scrap aluminum price is a fraction of what copper is.

    And I agree with Jort that making the buyers of illegally obtained metal accountable needs to done. 

  • Dad February 8, 2024 (3:32 pm)

    I’m a bit late to the conversation, but how would buyers like West Seattle Recycling be expected to verify where material came from?  I’ve sold many lots to copper from demo projects before, at different scrap places.  Always had to give my ID.  What else can they reasonably do?  90 day escrow might work, but that’s a lot of cost and complexity for a pretty low grossing business.  I would not be happy if it became impossible to sell copper.  Now, maybe catalytic converters are specialized enough consider something different.  I don’t know anyone sawing off their own CC to recycle.

    • Frog February 8, 2024 (8:10 pm)

      I don’t understand the escrow idea either.  Copper seems to be relatively untraceable once the wires are stripped, so it’s not clear what sort of investigation would actually happen in 90 days that would make any difference.  If there was such thing as a premium wire product that was somehow micro-engraved and identifiable, for use in theft-prone applications, that would help, but wouldn’t require escrow — just checking.

Sorry, comment time is over.