Copper Thieves Causing a Lot of Damage

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Forget the lottery. For many criminals, copper is their jackpot.

"They're going to go into air conditioning units and things like that to get copper out because they get a high dollar out when they scrap it," said LPD Officer Erin Spilker.

That's what happened at a strip mall on North 27th Street.

"The air conditioning units were taken apart, damaged and the copper tubing and coils were all taken from inside the air conditioning units," said Spilker.

For criminals the payout can be pretty good. Copper from all three of these units can get up to $1,000. But for the owners, the price tag is much higher.

"The air conditioning units themselves are rendered useless and you have to completely replace the air conditioning units," said Spilker.

And it can be pricey. Each unit runs about $5,000. The strip mall owner is now faced with a $15,000 bill to replace them. To add insult to injury, it's the second time in the last year and a half that this has happened here.

And it's only getting easier for criminals to get away with it.

"We no longer require a scrapper to provide any kind of permit when they're scrapping out copper so it would be very common," said Spilker.

But there are ways to protect your copper-laden property.

Police say the easiest way is to put a fence around it.

If it's in a dark place, installing a light may also prevent a theft.

And if you can afford it, video surveillance will ensure they won't get away without getting caught on camera.

It could be a small price to pay to ensure you don't wake up to your property damaged.

If you know anything about this case, call Crimestoppers at 475-3600. You could be eligible for a $1,000 cash reward.