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Material Theft

Public Safety and Public Funds at Risk

WSDOT is experiencing an increasing amount of theft of copper wire and other materials from the highway system. We are working with the Washington State Patrol to slow this alarming trend.

Copper wire has been stolen from state-owned street lights, signals, and storage yards. Thieves also are stealing aluminum, steel, and other WSDOT property. These thefts jeopardize public safety by disabling traffic signals, highway lighting, information signs, and other transportation systems.

Cracking Down on Thieves

Lawmakers, WSDOT, and WSP are working together to stop these thefts. On May 8, 2007, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5312. It increases penalties against metal thieves. The Washington State Patrol aggressively investigates these crimes as they risk public safety by disabling traffic signals and other devices.

To help stop the crime, WSDOT personnel have moved materials into covered storage areas, adjusted security cameras at some of the storage yards, and are paying closer attention to roadway activity that might be suspicious.

What You Can Do

Drivers and taxpayers are the ones being ultimately harmed by these crimes. Unlike private companies or members of the public who may be insured by commercial insurance companies, WSDOT is self-insured. Since there is no insurance company with which to file a claim, WSDOT losses are paid by taxpayers.

We need your help. Keep your eyes and ears open for any suspicious or odd work zone activities. If you see a wire theft in process dial 9-1-1.  If you have information regarding wire theft, please use the online form to  report  any information helpful in arresting those responsible for these thefts.

WSDOT crews and contractors' trucks and equipment are clearly identifiable with logos. The work zones are clearly signed and workers wear reflective clothing and hardhats. Drivers should see a sign telling them a work zone is set up ahead.