Pierce County prosecutors have charged six men with burglarizing and stealing copper metal from a defunct paper mill in Steilacoom.
The charges of second-degree burglary and first-degree theft were filed Tuesday. The defendants range in age from 36 to 53.
Charging documents provide the following information:
A bystander called Steilacoom public safety officers early Monday to report a suspicious person/possible vehicle prowl in progress on Ira Light Street.
Officers responded and stopped a van that was leaving the area. They detained three men who were inside.
The men told officers they’d gone to Steilacoom to steal copper and metal items from the Abitibi Paper Mill. The items would then be pawned for cash.
The officers went to the old paper mill. The 80-acre site is surrounded by a chain link fence, locked gates and has no trespassing signs posted.
The officers walked down a trail used by the men arrested in the van. The officers found three other men removing copper wire and other metal items near the pump house, which is in a secluded area of the complex, and conduits from a transformer.
“Each of the three was actively involved in collecting copper wire, preparing it for transport and aiding in the removal of the wire from the transformer,” charging documents state.
Investigators found a cart, suspected methamphetamine and other items in the van. The ground near the pump house was littered with tools commonly used to execute copper thefts and 75 feet of stripped copper wire. The value of the copper and metal items found at the mill site and in the van was placed at more than $750.
Charging documents noted that two of the defendants were charged in June with stealing from the Abitibi Paper Mill.