In Federal Way, it was the public works version of soccer's "extra time.” Crews were scrambling to make sure it wasn't “lights out” for young soccer players.
Sometime early Tuesday, thieves busted into electrical boxes at Federal Way's Centennial Park and stole hundreds of feet of copper wire to sell for scrap.
Lights for four fields were affected, including the security and sprinkler systems. This, as 1,200 youth soccer players from across the state planned to descend upon the city for its biggest tournament of the year.
With no lights to accommodate the 300 games scheduled for this weekend, the tournament would have to be cut short or even cancelled.
“It’s just really sad,” said soccer mom Julie Keeley. “Who would do something like this?”
Copper theft is a big problem across the state. Many cities, including Federal Way, have taken additional security steps to thwart the thieves at their public facilities. In fact, crooks tried twice earlier this summer to break into electrical boxes at this same park in Federal Way, but only had limited luck. But by their third visit, they had figured out ways to beat the system, and they did just that.
Perry Woodford with the Federal Way Soccer Association, who organizes the tournament, said, “Not playing is the biggest heartbreak for a kid. A lot of them come from out of town.”
Woodford also said the tournament acts as a fundraiser to defray costs to players and parents for next year's teams.
“It's a big hit to us,” he said.
A spokseman for the City of Federal reported by 5:30 p.m. Thursday all the lights were fixed and the soccer tournament will go ahead as scheduled.