Copper thieves shut down library

December 4, 2007 10:32:30 AM PST
Monday, we saw two more cases of thieves trying just about anything to get their hands on precious copper. One case was in northwest Harris County and the other at Houston's historic downtown library.The library had to shut down as a result of the theft and that's not the only inconvenience. Electricians spent the day at the Julia Ideson Branch Library in downtown repairing damage caused by copper thieves overnight.

"They have cut the wires that lead to the generator that leads to the emergency panels," Issa Dadoush of the city of Houston said. "And when this happened we lost power to some of the major components of the building."

The library lost power to its elevators, lights and fire alarm system. The city's central library next door is under renovation and also lost power bringing construction to a halt. This latest crime marks the fifth time a city building has been hit by copper thieves in just the past two years.

Sunnyside Health Center, the Dixon and Smith libraries and the Kashmere Multi-Service Center have also been targeted. City officials estimate the total loss at more than $150,000.

"Actually those facilities that were hi, we have instituted some security measures that I cannot really comment on camera," Dadoush said.

Copper is a hot commodity on the black market. Just a few hours after the library was burglarized thieves were caught on camera at Texas Electronic Recylers. The owner says the crooks used bolt cutters to get inside the fence.

Six security cameras captured the thieves grabbing bundles of cables containing copper and load them on a truck.

They took off running and when Harris County Sheriff's deputies arrived, they got away, but had to leave both their truck and $3,000 worth of copper behind.

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