ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Real estate experts are warning building owners after copper wire was stolen from a commercial building shut down more than one year before.
Albany Police said all the copper wire and refrigerant pipes were stolen from a former Winn Dixie in east Albany. Police said when the owner and real estate manager went to check the property Tuesday, they found all the copper stripped out of the 47,000 square foot building.
The former supermarket is located on East Oakridge Drive. Officials said the thieves broke in through a back cooler in the store and then broke a hole in the cement wall. Apparently, the thieves spent days stripping the facility.
"They had chain hoists of some sort with pulleys in the mechanical rooms, and cut those holes in the walls just right. They clipped all the main, heavy breakers that it takes to runs those refrigerant units," said Coldwell Banker Walden and Kirkland President Larry Walden.
Investigators said the power was turned off to the building. Police are urging vacant store and home owners to leave the power on and check them frequently. They estimated the value of the wire and refrigerants stolen at about $250,000.
"Where possible, [owners should make sure] that lights are still used around these businesses. So that way it helps the public see what's going on in and around [them]," said Albany Police Corporal Brian Covington.
Experts said it would cost $500,000 to fix the damage.
Police said copper thieves may target more large empty buildings, and asked everyone to watch out.
"We've heard of several more, in the last 60 days," said Covington.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call police.