SEATTLE (AP) – Two people have been arrested and charged Demolition in power substations US authorities said on Tuesday that there were attacks in Washington state that left thousands without power over the holidays and a suspect told authorities he did it so he could break into businesses and steal money.

Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, both of Puyallup, were arrested Saturday and made initial appearances Tuesday in US District Court in Tacoma.

A new unsealed complaint accused the two of conspiracy to damage energy facilities, and it accused Greenwood of possessing a short-barreled rifle and a short-barreled shotgun. The complaint said cellphone location data and other evidence linked them to attacks at four substations in Pierce County.

More than 15,000 customers were left without power in the attacks on 25 December. US power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and its aftermath, officials warn A major outage in North Carolina Last month the repair took several days.

According to the complaint, Greenwood told investigators after his arrest that the two turned off the power so they could break into a business and steal from a cash register. The business was not identified in the complaint.

“We have seen attacks like this in western Washington and across the country, and each incident should be taken seriously,” Seattle US Attorney Nick Brown said in a news release. “The outage over Christmas left thousands of people in the dark and cold and put some at extreme risk who needed power for medical equipment.”

Lawyers representing the men in federal court did not immediately return emails seeking comment on the case. Greenwood faces a hearing on Friday, Crahan on Tuesday. Federal prosecutors are seeking to keep him in custody pending trial.

The four substations targeted were the Graham and Elk Plain substations operated by Tacoma Power and the Kapowsin and Hemlock substations operated by Puget Sound Energy. The complaint stated that transformers at the Tacoma power substation would have to be replaced and that damage was estimated at at least $3 million.

According to the complaint, the pair attacked the first three substations on Christmas Day, then the last Kapovsin substation that evening. In each case, they used bolt cutters to access the properties and manipulated switches to shut off the power. The complaint states that their actions at the Kaposin substation caused fire and sparks.

FBI Special Agent Mark Tucher wrote in the complaint that Greenwood and Crahan were identified as suspects because location data showed cellphones associated with them in the vicinity of all four incidents. He said agents monitored them from December 27 to January 3 and it appeared they shared a home in Puyallup.

“Substations are spread over dozens of miles; The attacks occurred in the morning and evening; And the first and fourth attacks were carried out twelve hours apart,” the complaint said. “This makes it in the least unlikely that one person would have been at all four locations at the time they were each vandalized.”

The complaint states that when he was arrested, Greenwood had several articles of clothing that matched images of one of the suspects in surveillance images, and that agents found he had two unregistered short barrel weapons.

Conspiracy to attack energy facilities is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Possession of an unregistered firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

At least four electrical substations were targeted in earlier attacks in Oregon and Washington in late November. The assailants used firearms in at least some of the incidents, and some power customers in Oregon temporarily lost service. In one attack, two men cut down the fence surrounding a high-voltage substation and then targeted several equipment.

The utilities affected in those cases — Portland General Electric, Bonneville Power Administration and Puget Sound Energy — said they were working with the FBI.



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