Police arrest 3 for copper theft in downtown Wichita

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Shattered glass frequently falls to the sidewalk and street below. Shattered glass frequently falls to the sidewalk and street below.

Police have arrested three people in connection to copper thefts in downtown Wichita.

Jail records show 40-year-old Mindy Gillespie, 20-year-old Dakota Harbison and 37-year-old Christopher Reiser were booked for burglary and theft. 

Officer Paul Cruz said the suspects were arrested Thursday morning, adding that points of entry the burglars used have been secured. A truckload of copper was returned to the owner of the building where the theft occurred. 

Police say crooks have been targeting two vacant buildings that sit at the intersection of Market and William.

Gillespie was also jailed for drug and traffic charges, Harbison faces additional charges of drug possession and criminal carrying of a firearm, and Reiser was also booked for possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Reiser served was on Community Corrections from May 2009 to December of 2011 for drug possession, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

Law enforcement is seeing a rise in copper thefts because metal prices are up and drug addicts are stealing to pay for their habits, Cruz said.

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Thieves are destroying two buildings in downtown Wichita. People who work nearby say its making the area unsafe.

A man who works near Market and William streets captured the latest theft on cell phone video Wednesday morning.

The video shows thieves loading stolen copper into their truck. 

Kirk Emmons and his co-workers have seen the heist play out several times. 

"Vehicles pull up early in the morning, 4:30, 5:30, 6:00 in the morning and people haul the copper out," Emmons said.

The crooks have been targeting two vacant buildings that sit at the intersection. They're walking on top of a sky bridge that connects a parking garage to the buildings. They've shattered many windows to gain access.

The concerned witnesses say they fear someone will be hurt by glass that randomly falls from the broken windows. 

"The other day we watched it fall from like the 5th or 6th story into the bike lane over there," Jonathan Just said.

"If that hits somebody, it'll be bad," Emmons said.

While witnesses were recording Wednesday's theft on a cell phone, they say they also called 911 letting dispatchers know the thieves were back.

"The police were called, but they never came down," Emmons said.

Wichita police haven't told us why they didn't immediately respond to Wednesday's 911 call.

An officer says they are aware of the thefts and have made at least one arrest in the past. Police say they've asked the owner of the buildings to secure them many times.

We attempted to speak with the owner of the buildings for this story, but she declined to comment.