Copper thieves strike South Knox library

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Knoxville (WVLT) - A South Knox County library sits closed Monday night, and will stay that way until Tuesday, thanks to the hands of copper thieves. Workers at the Howard Pinkston branch on Martin Hill Pike found nearly all the air conditioners ransacked Monday morning. The copper inside...stolen. The Knox County Sheriff's office says it's not only a problem here in Knoxville, but all of East Tennessee.

The fans still run...at least in one.

"It's terribly unfortunate," Mary Pom Claiborne says.

The same can't be said for the other four air conditioners at Knox County Library's Howard Pinkston Branch.

"Nothing good comes of theft," Claiborne continues.

The copper inside...ransacked by thieves over the weekend.

"It's a horrible thing," Claiborne says.

Horrible because with only one working AC unit...this reading hot spot's now too hot for reading at all.

"It's already 80 degrees and we'll take the library offline long enough to fix the air conditioning units," Claiborne says.

That's means at least until Tuesday.

"We've sustained about 15,000 dollars worth of damage," Claiborne continues.

"It's a problem all throughout the Southeast," Martha Dooley says.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office says copper theft's been a problem for the last couple of years.

"Thieves are hitting air conditioners, new housing projects, that sort of thing for the copper," Dooley continues.

Construction areas are also popular picks. And a spokesperson for the University of Tennessee says thieves also hit up campus buildings for copper twice in the last week.

"We see an increase when the copper prices go up. So it's been a supply and demand situation," Dooley says.

The sheriff's office says most of it ends up in a scrap yard...sold for three to four dollars a pound.

"It depends on what size it is. How easy it is to get to the place where the air conditioner is and how easy it is to extract the copper from it."

A theft...the sheriff's office says is made dangerous by the electricity involved.

"We've had cases of people getting hurt trying to steal the copper," Dooley says.

Librarians say the theft at this library hurts the summer readers...

"It's pretty bad," Claiborne says.

Because it'll most likely will be closed for several days.

The sheriff's office says it's working on ways to combat copper theft. And UT has stepped up on campus patrols. Library workers still encourage readers to come for the summer reading club when the library re-opens. There's still two weeks left.


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  • by Tony Location: Albemarle NC on Nov 10, 2008 at 12:32 PM
    Don't trust WB-Manufacturing and their copper-guard product. You won't get what you pay for. There are better products to protect your units.
  • by Dean Location: Charlotte, NC on Feb 17, 2008 at 11:19 PM
    you really should tell people about copper guard - go to www.wb-manufacturing.com - best product on the market to stop this sort of thing - your viewers will appreciate it.
  • by gene Location: Knoxville on Jul 16, 2007 at 11:27 PM
    Yes, the dope heads are at it again! Destroy $15,000 worth of A/C equipment to buy a few hundred dollars worth of crack! Maybe when it gets so bad that the sheriff loses the copper plumbing in his house they will come up with a solution on how to stop this type of theft. Law enforcement really can't do anything about it, no matter what they say they are "working on". And if they do, by accident, catch the thieves the court system just releases them so they can do it all over again. If the state would allow an open season on these thieves the property owners could, and would, put a permanent stop to it in a hurry. Or, better yet, make drugs legal so these dope heads can get enough stuff cheaply to kill themselves off. A suggestion would be to go after the thieves from the scrap yard angle just as the law goes after pawn shops that buy stolen merchandise. Make the darn junkyards photo the people who bring in the suspicious load of copper. Not too much to ask, is it?

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