Copper crooks steal from charity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Copper crooks steal from charity

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December 20, 2006

Albany -- Thousands of dollars worth of copper wires are stolen from a local charity that builds homes for families. The heist happened at the Flint River Habitat for Humanity headquarters on Flint Avenue, just days after electricians finished wiring it.

Thieves break into homes, businesses, and ravage construction sites to strip copper tubes and wires. They sell the scrap metal to recycle centers. This time it was at the expense of a group that builds a better life for others.

This is the future office of the Flint River Habitat for Humanity, hundreds of college students and other community volunteers have poured in hours of hard work throughout the past three years building it up to this.

Electricians recently installed copper wiring throughout the office building so it would finally have electricity. Those plans however, shattered because vandals broke in and undid up to $10,000 worth of work.

"It's just frustrating really because like I said we've been working on this building a long time and we have great hopes for what's going to be here. Family support is really going to be expanded. It will be an asset to downtown," said Stacey Driggers.

More than 4,000 feet of copper wiring was installed into this house. Now it's all gone. Police say construction sites are an easy target for these thieves, but it's not an easy crime to solve.

That's because the hot wires are immediately taken to recycle centers, where all you need is a picture ID to exchange wire for cash.

We called local shops that buy back wire. The thieves get away with up to $2.40 for #1 type copper, that includes pipes and tubes. Per pound of copper wire it's $2.30.

That equals thousands of dollars worth of copper stolen from the Habitat for Humanity, and it's left many questions for the non-profit group.

"Just sad, disheartening like I said. We're an organization trying to do good things in the community," said Driggers.

The group also makes a plea to the community.

"They were here for a little while. We just want if anyone knows anything or has any information to please contact us and help us keep an eye out down here and we'll do the same for our neighbors, " said Driggers.

Habitat for Humanity will redo what was lost by raising more money and getting the building wired again.

Habitat hoped the building would be completed by the end of the year. Now the group will have to contact electricians again to see the cost of installation and purchasing more copper wire. The group is hoping insurance will cover some of what was lost.

If you want to help out, you can make donation specifically for the Habitat office project. All other donations go to the general home building fund.

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