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Beaumont police see spike in copper theft

Updated: Friday, August 29 2014, 02:02 AM CDT
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet

Beaumont Police are investigating a large spike in copper thefts around the city. Detectives say copper thieves hit about 20 businesses in the last two weeks, and three more thefts were reported just this morning. Local business owners and managers are frustrated.

"They pulled it up, and they ran all the Freon out, and when I got here I saw that the copper tubing was like pulled up," said Kim Glover, pointing to her store's now repaired air conditioning unit.

Glover is the manager at National Optical Warehouse on Stagg Drive in Beaumont. She says thieves tore copper from her air conditioning unit late Sunday or early Monday.

"I was so upset because this is coming out of my bottom line. This is money that we could have used in advertising, and to purchase better frames, or to purchase things I need for my business," said Glover, "and instead I had to fix this."

Her store is not the only business copper thieves hit this month.

"When somebody comes in for fifteen minutes worth of theft, and then we spend half a week working on that when we have patients that need to be seen," said Eric Sprott with Harbor Home Health.

Thieves also stole from Harbor Home Health next door, taking copper wire from four of their six air conditioning units.

"It's beyond frustrating, it's frightening to know that someone can just come in and take that with that much ease," said Sprott. "And it's required us to step up our security in an area that we assumed was safe."

Glover is also tightening security.

"I lost business that day because it was so hot," said Glover. "I couldn't have people come in here, it was 95 degrees in that store."

Thieves have hit businesses all over Beaumont and have recently hit businesses along I-10 West. Detectives say in some cases, thieves have caused more than 10 thousand dollars worth of damage.

"Copper right now, the good stuff, is going for 2.67 cents a pound," said Detective Anthony Goudeau, who investigates metal thefts for the Beaumont Police Department.

Detective Goudeau says he's received about 20 reports of copper theft in the last two weeks, which is a big spike.

"I think the motivation for the copper theft is drug related, drug driven," said Detective Goudeau.

Police have surveillance video of some of the thefts. Detective Goudeau says police do not know if the thefts are related.

"There is no one suspect or group of suspects, it's just happening all over town," said Detective Goudeau.

Businesses just want it to stop.

"Do something with yourself beside stealing from other people, it's not right and God don't like ugly," said Glover.

Detective Goudeau says he's alerted recycling and scrap businesses to be on the lookout for stolen copper, which is hard to identify because it's unmarked. He says police are working to make it harder for thieves to sell stolen copper.
Beaumont police see spike in copper theft

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