West Side Neighborhood And Westar Energy Victims Of Copper Theft

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's a constant problem police see, thieves ripping about AC units and breaking into businesses in search of copper.

One Kansas energy company has been hit twice this week and just yesterday a west Wichita neighborhood was the scene of a double copper theft.

It's not the best time of year to have to replace an AC unit.

"It was 78 in the house when we got up this morning, a little warm,” west Wichita resident James Taylor told us.

But James and Jane Taylor had no choice. Thieves ripped apart theirs in search of the copper inside.

“This is the only piece they took was $40 for a $6,500 unit,” Taylor said.

The Taylors got the stolen piece back, thanks to their neighbor and her dogs. It was their loud barking that first got her attention. When she went outside she spotted someone at the business next door.

“There was a guy ripping out the air conditioning unit real fast,” Vicky Cheatham said.

Thanks to Cheatam's call, police officers found and arrested two people for both copper thefts.

While police tell us this crime is a constant problem for them, a spokesperson for Westar energy says they've seen a surge in cases. They've had 12 this year, up from just one last year.

This past weekend, a Westar training facility on north Seneca was hit. Wednesday night copper thieves broke into a substation in Topeka.

"It does come out of our operating costs but eventually if this keeps occurring it could roll into our rates and cause higher rates for customers,” Westar spokesperson Nick Bundy said.

Whether it's a business or your neighbor's home. police say if you see something suspicious, call them. They also tell us the harder it is for thieves to get your AC unit, the more likely they are to just move on.

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