Fresno strip mall stripped of copper wire
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Copper wire crooks are reaching new heights. Nearly an entire strip mall in Central Fresno will be without heat for at least another week because thieves tore apart 10 roof-top heating and cooling units to steal the wiring inside.
The crime happened at a shopping center on the northeast corner of Shields and Cedar in Central Fresno.
The metal marauders are becoming more daring. Shop owners said the criminals scaled a locked fence and climbed up to the roof of the building just for a few hundred dollars' worth of copper wire. But replacement costs for the units are nearly $50,000.
Working conditions at Luis' Custom Boot Maker are a bit cooler this week. Owner Luis Jovel first noticed something was wrong when his heater didn't turn on.
"Nothing came out, everything was cold," Jovel said. He called his repair man, who went up on the roof, only to find the combination heating and cooling systems had been ripped apart. They were stripped of their precious metals.
"They only focus on the copper. He said, you know what, your neighbor doesn't have it and your other neighbor doesn't have it," Jovel said.
Soon after, an employee from Anthony's Barber Shop walked around the entire roof. He found 10 units had been hit.
To keep his customers comfortable Sang Lai brought in a small, portable heater. "It happened to me and it could happen to somebody else, that hurts my feelings," Laid said.
That's the very reason the owner of Harry's Attic Thrift Store called Action News.
He's hoping people, since crooks are rising to the level of roof-top crime, will pay more attention to what's around them.
"It's not getting any better. It's going to get worse before it gets better," the store owner said.
The head of Fresno Police Department's Copper Wire Theft Task Force, Sgt. Mark Hudson, said this type of store-top theft is new.
"Anywhere that there's a possibility that a thief can get in and around any copper wire they're going to find a way to get it stolen," said Sgt. Hudson.
"So here we are cold, because it's going to take a week before we can get some heat," Jovel said.
The property owner told Action News it will take at least a week until the new heating and cooling units are installed. He's also waiting to find out if this theft is covered by his insurance.
copper wire theft, crimetracker, theft, local, rick montanez
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