Employees out of work, pay after copper thieves may have damaged $1 million machine

MUKILTEO, Wash. -- Three people are now out of work and a million-dollar piece of machinery could be ruined after copper thieves struck a Snohomish County business.

Early Wednesday morning, thieves stole about 200 feet of heavy gauge copper wire from a building used by Terrene Inc. Amazingly nobody got hurt as the wire was actually energized when it was stolen.

Terrene President Colin Chadwick said it was a skeleton staff working on Wednesday because the wire theft meant one of their laser cutters was without power.

“We lost a whole day, 24-48 hours of production,” said Chadwick.

Chadwick added that the wire got cut at his shop on Russell Road around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Chadwick said the crooks left behind some metal but got away with about 200 feet of heavy gauge copper wire. Now his laser cutter is out of commission – and three of his employees had to go home without pay.

“It’s very big disruption and it’s very unfortunate because a bunch of guys lost their pay for a few days,” he said. “Nothing we can do about it.”

Repairs were estimated to be around $4,000, according to Chadwick. He’s hoping the laser cutter’s computer wasn’t fried when the power was cut. That could mean the $1 million machine is nothing more than a paper weight. The vandalism would be a big blow to the local business.

“To take my guys' livelihood and force me to go through the cost to repair all this is just ridiculous,” he said. “Just over a few bucks that’s probably going to be used for drugs or something, who knows. It’s just sad.”

Surveillance cameras also caught some people appearing to be scoping out the building around the same time as the theft.

Mukilteo Police said they don’t have any information about suspects but detectives are investigating the case.