Authorities charged two men with attacking four Pierce County, Washington, power substations, denying electrical power to thousands of people on Christmas Day, the Western Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, allegedly caused more than $3 million in estimated power substation damages, broke into a local business and stole from its cash register, with Greenwood later saying they planned the power disruption to commit burglary, the criminal complaint against them showed. The two men were both charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities and unregistered firearm possession, facing up to 30 total years in prison if convicted.
Greenwood and Crahan allegedly caused power outages by manipulating power switches and circuit breakers after cutting through power stations’ security perimeters, based on the complaint. More than 14,000 electricity customers were affected, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
“We have seen attacks such as these increase in Western Washington and throughout the country and must treat each incident seriously,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said, according to his office’s press release. “The outages on Christmas left thousands in the dark and cold and put some who need power for medical devices at extreme risk.”
A gunfire attack on two rural North Carolina power substations cut electricity for tens of thousands of people in early December, NPR reported. Investigators did not immediately report the attack’s possible motive, but the local sheriff said whoever carried it out “knew exactly what they were doing to cause the damage and cause the outage that they did.”
Brown’s office declined to comment beyond the press release.
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