Thief cuts fiber optic line; internet out for 6 hours

If you were without internet for six hours Feb. 18 you likely have a 44-year-old Belfair man to blame.

The man was in Kitsap County Superior Court Feb. 21 charged with first-degree malicious mischief. Bail was set at $90,000. If convicted, maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

On Feb. 18 at about 2 p.m. a county officer was dispatched to a possible stolen vehicle at Puget Sound Energy property near Solid Lane in Bremerton. The reporting party was repairing fiber optic lines due to an internet outage that day. It disrupted internet for emergency services, the Navy base, cell phone towers and residences north of Gorst.

The man’s vehicle was stuck in the mud. When the officer approached, he saw the man had attempted to melt down some wire. The officer in the report says he knows that drug addicts and wire thieves burn off the sheathing so they can sell the wire at a scrap yard.

The man said he did not cut the fiber optic wire. But the officer arrested him. After getting a search warrant, the officer found a battery-operated Sawzall and other items that could be used to commit such a crime. He also found an earlier receipt from a scrap metal business.

The PSE worker said damage was likely around $50,000. He said suspects in cases like this cut into the line then leave it once they determine there is no copper.