Two Hoquiam men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly breaking into the former Harbor Paper mill and taking about 200 pounds of wire, causing thousands of dollars in damage, according to the Hoquiam Police Department.
The defunct paper mill is in the process of being demolished by Hero Demolition Corporation. Workers reported Wednesday morning that someone entered the property and stole thousands of dollars-worth of copper wire, not only from the mill building, which was sold to bidders in a recent auction, but also from a rented generator used by workers in the demolition process.
Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said in a press release the mill site has been targeted in several recent thefts of metal and equipment. The demolition company has hired full-time security across the site.
The damage to the rented generator power cord was estimated at $3,400 alone, Myers said. Numerous employees were unable to work without power, costing the company another $5,000 in lost wages.
Employees followed drag marks in the dirt into the brush outside the mill, finding several pieces of stolen wire but no sign of suspects.
Officers were called back at about 1:15 p.m. when security caught the two men, ages 50 and 54, stripping wire. Employees chased the men into a swampy area between the mill and 28th Street.
One surrendered immediately, the other had to be coaxed out of the swamp by officers, Myers said.
Employees identified the men as the ones they had seen on the premises, but the men denied being there or taking wire. One said they were out looking for his dog, but had no details about the dog and “could only describe his dog’s name as ‘Something,’ ” Myers said.
Officers checked the area where the men had been spotted by employees and found about 200 pounds of copper wire, half already stripped and half prepared to be stripped. Officers confirmed it was stolen from the mill.
Demolition employees found a pair of bolt cutters next to the stripped wire they identified as stolen during the earlier burglary.
The men were booked into Grays Harbor County jail for second-degree burglar and second degree malicious mischief. Myers said both have extensive criminal history.