Real Goal in Attack on Substations Was Theft: Officials

Court filing says men knocked out power, then broke into a business
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2023 4:32 PM CST
Real Goal in Attack on Substation Was Theft: Officials
Sgt. Darren Moss Jr., public information officer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, briefs reporters on Dec. 25 about the attack on electrical substations in Washington.   (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP)

The attack on electrical substations in Pierce County, Wash., that left thousands of customers without power on Christmas Day was cover for a burglary attempt, sheriff's officials said. Two men were arrested over the weekend, and court documents say investigators think they knocked out the power as part of a plan to break into a local business and clean out its cash register, the Washington Post reports. Once the electricity was out, Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, drilled out a lock, the filing says. The two are being held in Seattle, officials said. Cellphone location data and substation video led officers to the two men, officials said, per KOMO.

Bolt cutters were used to break open padlocks at four substations, officials said, and the utility reported that circuit breakers were tampered with. Repairs at two of the substations could take three years, said Tacoma Power, which is using mobile transformers that produce less power. US Attorney Nick Brown said some of the affected customers needed electricity to power medical devices. The Department of Homeland Security recently warned that critical infrastructure is at risk of attack by terrorists. Greenwood and Crahan are next due in court on Friday, per the Post. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to damage energy facilities is 20 years in prison. (Read more substation stories.)

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