Local News

Copper Theft Costs Salvation Army

Posted July 25, 2007

— Copper thieves struck a Salvation Army building, ripping out hundreds of feet of wiring from the building and thousands of dollars from the charity's funds.

Thieves took as much as 3,000 pounds of copper wiring in what Salvation Army leaders said was a job that required several days and heavy, special equipment. The Salvation Army had planned to open the 40,00 square-foot building as a new women's and children's shelter in 2009.

"This was obviously a very professional job," said Ashley Delamar, director of operations and communications for the Salvation Army of Wake County.

The thieves took two commercial-sized air conditioning units, and copper wiring "all the way down to the smallest fittings on the hot-water heater has been removed," said Delamar.

They left behind clean-cut wire, empty panel boxes and severed cables.

"Whoever took advantage of the building knew what they were after and did a very thorough job," said Delamar.

The professional nature of the job did not surprise Raleigh police, who said that copper theft is on the rise with the metal going for nearly $3 a pound. The value of copper has skyrocketed 400 percent in the past two years, said police.

The theft at the Salvation Army building at 1821 Capital Boulevard likely netted the thieves "a $10,000 payday," said Delamar.

"It is something that occurs fairly frequently in Raleigh, just as it does in other areas. And when the price of copper is up, the crimes are likely to increase," said Jim Sughrue, a Raleigh Police Department public-information officer.

Salvation Army officials filed a police report this week but said they're not sure when the crime occurred since they bought the building in March.

"Unfortunately, we didn't stop in enough and check on it," said .

The opening, however, will likely be delayed because nearly all the wiring needs to be replaced, said officials. The charity is getting estimates from electricians.

"If we're buying wiring, we're not able to buy food," said Delamar.

Leaders said they regret most the cost to the community and the public.

"It adds to what we already have to ask the community for. Without the community, we don't exist. Without the community, obviously, now, we don't turn the lights on," said Delamar.


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  • TheyCallMeTheFireman Jul 25, 2007

    What makes it hard for the scrap yards to catch them is the fact that not all thieves are stupid. The stupid ones get caught, but the smart ones will take several weeks to sell all of this copper, and sell it to several different scrap yards. They will also cut it up into short pieces to make it look like trimmings from a legitimate job.

  • cryinshame Jul 25, 2007

    the thieves of durham are now spreading out since they've stolen most of durhams stuff or the police are on to them there.

  • emory24 Jul 25, 2007

    Who said the economy was booming.......oh yes for theives.

  • shine Jul 25, 2007

    most any recycling center now ask for a drivers license or some form of ID so that they can identify the source of the products. Hopefully the police will put out flyers or e-mail all of the recycling centers to help bring these thieves to justice. This goes on all of the time - first I have heard of hitting the salvation army. Some people have no salvation.

  • Thomas Jefferson Jul 25, 2007

    To steal the wiring out of the Salvation Army building is essentially stealing candy from a babies mouth. Oh, and by the way, I'd just like to point out to all the Durham bashers, especially the ones who commented on the storm grate thefts in Durham-This was in Raleigh. Wake Up! This kind of thing happens everywhere.

  • then who cares Jul 25, 2007

    I believe with a little extra effort these thieves could be caught! People buying this "scrap" copper know better!