Investigators in Washington state continued to search Monday for suspects in a string of Christmas Day burglaries at four electrical substations near Tacoma, causing a fire at one location and leaving thousands without power.
Burglars broke through the fences as two substations run by Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) and two by Puget Sound Energy over a roughly 17-hour stretch beginning early Sunday. The burglaries left an estimated 14,000 customers in the dark on Christmas, with power mostly restored Monday.
The break-ins and resulting power outages were as frustrating for local residents as they were puzzling for local law enforcement, who said they are aware of “similar incidents occurring across the country.” The vandals did not take anything from the facilities and the motive is unclear, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a bulletin.
“The weirdest part about the whole thing is that this is all rural area; it’s not like it was Tacoma or downtown Seattle,” Sgt. Darren Moss Jr., a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department told The Washington Post on Monday. “If it was a message, who is it for? Or is just some people pulling a prank?”
The affected substations were in or near unincorporated and largely rural Pierce County, Moss said. He noted that the facilities were all unmanned but do have some security measures, though he couldn’t elaborate on the details. Fences outside the affected substations all showed signs of forced entry, he said.