WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Police investigating vault burglary that cut CenturyLink service

CenturyLink says it has restored service to everyone affected by a multi-day outage blamed on wire vandals/thieves. But the company won’t say much else. We heard about this from customers on Pigeon Point, where the outage apparently hit the hardest. SPD finally released some information on Monday, saying it got word of the situation around 10 pm last Thursday, when a CenturyLink employee called “to report a burglary at one of their vaults under the West Seattle Bridge, located at the 2300 block of SW Spokane Street.” The SPD summary says officers were told that “fiber optics and copper wiring (was) cut,” with damage estimated at up to $200,000, and that the company had received an alarm around 6:30 that night. Though a CenturyLink spokesperson wouldn’t comment to us on how many customers were affected, the SPD summary says, “The fiber optics provide internet and phone service for customers covering parts of West Seattle all the way south to White Center and east to 1st Avenue.” Plus, police say, they were “informed by the technicians that a similar incident occurred in Tacoma about two weeks ago.” We haven’t found information on that but did find this newspaper report about one on the Key Peninsula last summer, and this TV story from two months ago noting that as of early April, CenturyLink (aka Lumen) had almost 70 incidents like this in the region – one-third of what had been reported nationwide.

One Pigeon Point resident we heard from says they and neighbors want to know what the company’s doing to beef up security; the spokesperson wouldn’t comment to us on that either, aside from saying, “In terms of security, CenturyLink has an excellent relationship with local authorities. We pride ourselves on being a good member of the community, and law enforcement has done an excellent job in responding to our concerns about copper theft. We work closely with law enforcement to find and fully prosecute those responsible for these criminal acts. Anyone witnessing a theft in action should call 911.” (If you have any information for police on this incident, the case # is 24-152931.)

16 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Police investigating vault burglary that cut CenturyLink service"

  • bolo June 11, 2024 (10:54 pm)

    Timeline roughly coincides with when I saw voluminous new wire insulation shavings and scraps strewn about the official wire stripping zone under the high bridge on the cycle trail just east of the St. Rolf statue

  • South by southwest June 11, 2024 (11:00 pm)

    I don’t know how much political clout Century Link has, but after what seems like several million dollars in thefts they should probably think about putting some pressure on politicians to enact laws that force metal recycling operations to verify where the copper they buy comes from. Nothing else seems to be working. 

    • Westsidegirl June 12, 2024 (8:45 am)

      DEFINITELY!  I think it would need to be laws changed on a state level. Maybe you could write in or coordinate with CenturyLink to write to the governor or the attorney general?  I think that in addition to making it difficult to sell (provable ID with no criminal history if possible) but very huge fines  to the thieves….and license removal to the recycling places.  High  Incentives to get this stopped.

    • L in PP June 13, 2024 (5:12 pm)


  • WsDude June 12, 2024 (6:28 am)

    Used to work for century link. They probably just wanted the copper, as fiber optics has no resell value. If century link phased out all their copper wiring, it wouldn’t happen (yes people would lose their home phone numbers and such), but this wouldn’t continue to happen.

    • 1994 June 12, 2024 (10:41 pm)

      Would phasing out copper include phasing out landlines? 

  • B M X June 12, 2024 (8:10 am)

    i ride my bike under the bridge a bit and it’s crazy to see thieves right there huddled and peeling the wires apart and leaving all the scraps right along the bike path. this has been happening for months under there..maybe the cops should start there..? 

    • bill June 12, 2024 (9:13 am)

      Wire stripping in the cul de sac has been going on for years! The debris gets cleaned up periodically. Parts of the city government must be aware, but the police haven’t read the memo. I’d think random drive-bys would deter; maybe the thieves would take their wire stripping to the street in front of West Seattle Recycling and that business could deal with the messes they facilitate. If CenturyLink had reported the theft promptly maybe the cops could have caught the thieves red handed. 

      • flimflam June 12, 2024 (3:07 pm)

        I agree with you but what’s the point of arresting them if they are extremely unlikely to face any real charges?

  • Marcus June 12, 2024 (8:45 am)

    Seems like a no brained that laws need to be changed concern metal reclaimers.  Just a few tweaks would alter the entire stolen metal market.  Copper thieves affect large and small businesses.  A common on sense approach to legal metal reclaimers should have been enacted decades ago. Big business would certainly benefit and that would get the lobbyists working. Cannot understand?????

  • Alki Jack June 12, 2024 (9:55 am)

    SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST. You absolutely correct. Metal Recycler’s should be made by law to keep an exact record, including picture I.D. of whom they buy their materials from. How much, what type etc. It’s not just copper, also the metal in catalytic converters. I believe that Pawnshop’s are required to keep such records now. No current picture ID (drivers license or state ID card),  verifiable address etc. Don’t have these things, they can’t by law purchase materials from you. It has to end with the middle man.

    • bolo June 12, 2024 (10:41 am)

      Don’t they do this already? Last several times I took scrap metal to the salvage yards they took my ID and put it thru their system. It was a requirement. Your experience was different?

      • Erik June 12, 2024 (12:08 pm)

        Interesting! I didn’t know they did that already. Maybe the police should check that first.

      • Suzanne June 12, 2024 (11:08 pm)

        Bolo: I suspect that the thieves have alternate resources so nothing’s tracked. Don’t know that for sure but it would make sense that this is an organized effort. 

  • Bob June 13, 2024 (3:55 am)

    Not to blame the recycling company but they know when and who brings in stolen goods. The reason they don’t go out of their way to catch and report stolen goods is because that is where they make a lot of their money. A scrap yard is like a pawn shop. They make a living off of others misfortune.

  • Ann June 13, 2024 (3:46 pm)

    Thanks for reporting this. It is interesting that the police didn’t hear from Lumen until Thursday. Service went out for all of Pigeon Point at almost exactly 5:15 pm Wednesday June 5. 

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