$80,000 in Repairs Needed at Wildomar School After Thieves Snag Copper

Thousands of feet of copper tubing were taken from William Collier Elementary School's air conditioning units, according to the sheriff's department.

Photo courtesy:  Google Maps.
Photo courtesy: Google Maps.

Administrators at a Wildomar elementary school were taking steps Friday to get the air conditioning system functioning again after thieves stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of tubing needed to make it work.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, staff at William Collier Elementary School in the 20000 block of Mayhall Drive discovered Thursday that some copper had been taken from their rooftop units as they were looking into a leak.

"The copper tubing stolen was almost 2,000 feet in length and was believed to have been taken over the Memorial Day weekend," said sheriff's Sgt. Steve Brosche in a statement.

The theft resulted in roughly $80,000 in damage, according to Brosche.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the school had an auxiliary system running to keep the facility cool.

Sheriff's deputies were asking anyone with information to contact the sheriff's Wildomar station at (951) 245-3343.

In recent years, thieves have targeted fire hydrants, manhole covers, underground street light connections, backflow valves and other devices to steal brass and copper fittings to sell to scrap metal dealers for quick cash.

Repair costs are often several times more expensive than the value that thieves get for the stolen metal.

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, proposes to establish a statewide Metal Theft Task Force, which would bolster efforts to crack down on metals-related crime, mainly by ensuring that local jurisdictions have sufficient funds for anti-theft operations and enforcement. The legislation, AB 2313, is currently under review by the state Senate.

– City News Service contributed to this report.

Lake Elsinore Resident May 30, 2014 at 05:41 PM
They should also go after the companies that buy this stuff it the person selling it does not have a valid contractors license and an address of where the material came from don't buy it. Honest people will provide the correct information. I hope they catch this person and hold them responsible. When they throw them in jail then need to hold them there not release them after 25% of the time served. Time to send a message.
David Anton May 30, 2014 at 06:58 PM
This type of crime is becoming more common and the worst aspect is that for a few bucks worth of Cu pipe/wire/etc., thousands of dollars worth of equipment (i.e., repair/replacement costs) is destroyed. To the criminal, there's no problem off-loading the metal, its like cash, and the criminals can take as little cash as what's offered to transfer it to a scrap metal shop. Once the metal is taken, its hard to trace where it came from and the metal can be held on to or taken far away to be sold. A preventative measure might be similar to how ethyl alcohol is "denatured" (trace amounts of benzene added) which renders it unfit to drink, but allows it to function as a solvent. Perhaps the copper metal items (tubing, wire, plates) could be given a non-visible exterior marking once installed at a facility so that a UV reader would reveal the metal's origin, thus making it a real hassle to sell it without smelting it into ingots of copper. Fewer tweekers would choose to steal traceable metals. They definitely wouldn't interrupt their meth-cooking to heat copper or, if they do, there will be more explosions because a 1300F smelter near acetone is bad chemistry. If someone runs with my idea, kick me back some cash, precious metals accepted, too.
DB May 30, 2014 at 08:29 PM
What happened LER, they get after your Jordan account? Perhaps a message was sent to you?
Sew Good May 30, 2014 at 09:23 PM
When I take my recyclables in, I have to give my driver's license. Aren't they keeping a record of what I bring in? or doing some kind of check? I just don't think like a criminal and don't see how they get away with this.
Pam Richardson May 31, 2014 at 04:35 PM
I watched some guys in a blue truck do that at a church in Culver City Ca. I seen them do it before


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