Metal thieves hit Walton, Dorena substations

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Metal thieves broke into two power substations and did thousands of dollars in damage, the Bonneville Power Administration said.

Workers discovered the theft and damage July 26 at the Walton substation on Highway 126 west of Veneta, Ore. Later that morning, a crew found another break-in at the Dorena substation in Cottage Grove.

BPA is offering a reward up to $25,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Anyone having information is asked to call BPA's confidential and toll-free Crime Witness Hotline at 800-437-2744 or local law enforcement. Tips can also be provided to the Lane County Sheriff's office at 253-798-3278. The Lane County Sheriff's office is working with BPA on both cases.

In the Walton theft, the thieves cut a hole on the south side of the perimeter fence and stole 20 feet of copper wire from a steel frame. The damage is estimated at $3,000, BPA said.

At the Dorena substation on the corner of Row River Road and Garoutte Road in Cottage Grove, the perpetrators cut a hole in the southwest corner of the fence, damaged equipment and stole approximately 30 feet of copper ground wire. Lane County Electric Coop owns the property at the Dorena substation. Damage and repair costs are estimated at $3,500 to $4,000.

"Thieves are endangering their lives and the safety of our employees," said Kevin West, BPA physical security specialist. "The culprits are not only damaging the electrical infrastructure that keeps our lights on, but they're also forcing electric ratepayers to cover the costs of this kind of senseless damage and theft."

These are the second and third incidents in less than a month. Earlier this month, thieves broke into BPA's South Tacoma substation in Tacoma, Wash., and stole copper wire.

"We're hoping that this information will help jog the memory of someone who may know about the break in and theft or may have seen something suspicious at the substation," said West. "Sometimes even small details can help law enforcement officials make significant investigative progress."

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