$100,000 in metal burglarized from Port Townsend business
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Pete Langley holds a form similar to items stolen from Port Townsend Foundry on Tuesday or early Wednesday.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — Thieves took an estimated $100,000 in metal from Port Townsend Foundry this week, the owner said.

The burglary at 231 Otto St. occurred Tuesday night or early Wednesday, said Pete Langley, who has owned and operated the business for about 33 years.

When workers arrived at the foundry Wednesday morning, they noticed that several items were missing from an outbuilding and that windows had been spray-painted black, apparently to escape detection, Langley said.

Several unique maritime items — such as beam hangers, cowl vents, T-track and rudder fittings — had been taken.

“Some of these items weighed 60 pounds apiece,” Langley said, adding, “They knew what they were doing.”

“They knew what we had and had developed a plan for the theft,” he said.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Detective Brett Anglin agreed: “It was obvious that they had cased out the place.”

Anglin said his department “has a few small leads” but no solid suspects and is “waiting for something to turn up.”

One of those leads is a picture of a white van caught on security cameras during the approximate time of the robbery, Anglin said.

The foundry's main building, in which most of the inventory is housed, was not breached, Langley said.

The theft was from a side building that was less secure, he added.

Investigation determined that the thieves pulled a vehicle into a lot behind an adjacent building and cut through the fence.

They walked around the main building for about 50 yards on a slippery, narrow path to get to the side building and carried the items from the shop to their vehicle.

Given the number of heavy items stolen, Langley said it would have taken several people more than an hour to move all the metal.

Langley estimated that the stolen items were worth about $100,000 but said their value is more than financial.

Many of the items were metal components that took several months to build, so even if the foundry acquires raw material, it will take some time to get up to speed, Langley said.

“The most devastating part is for our employees, who spent months doing all this precision work, and they now have to do it all over again,” he said.

A digital camera that contains images of the work-in-progress also was stolen.

Items left alone were piles of generic steel that would have been easy to unload because it is not recognizable as unique equipment, Langley said.

Langley expects that the stolen items will be sold as scrap metal since anyone who recognizes the stolen items as maritime specialties would know about the theft.

Langley estimated that as scrap, the materials could bring in about $3,500.

“That's not a lot when you consider the long jail time they will be facing if they get caught,” Langley said.

Anglin said scrap-metal yards in Seattle and Tacoma have been alerted about the items.

Langley said insurance reimbursement will not cover the theft since it is based on materials and not labor.

He has notified clients of the delay and is working on getting cash flow so he can restart the work, he said.

Langley said he had decreased security in the outer buildings because of the cost but is reversing that practice.

He said an armed guard now will be on the premises around the clock.

“If anyone comes in and tries this again, I will exercise my Second Amendment rights,” he warned.

Any information leading to recovery of the items will collect a $2,000 reward, according to the foundry's Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/aq4ask9.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to phone Langley at 360-385-6425 or Anglin at 360-344-9762.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 07. 2013 6:33PM
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