At around 3:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, maintenance assistant Sailendra Singh received a call from the school’s fire monitoring company, Simplex, warning that the fire-alarm system had lost power.

The next morning, teacher Chris Millback and coach David Ancrum complained that the classrooms and gym had also lost power.

Investigation of the outage revealed that thieves (or possibly a single thief) had forced their way into the conduit box behind the gym and stolen an estimated $500 of copper wire, according to Jay Holman, director of the physical plant.

Holman said bolt cutters were used to cut through padlocks covering the conduit boxes. The thieves also unscrewed protective panels to access the wires.

“They definitely knew what they were doing,” Holman said in regard to the thieves’ ability to remove the wire without getting electrocuted.

According to Holman, the police planned to set up a crime scene investigation to determine if cut marks on the wires were consistent with those of other copper thefts in the area.

But because power was a necessity for final exams, the investigation was called off and the conduit box was repaired, costing the school about $2,000, Holman said.

According to The Sacramento Bee (“Sacramento making progress on copper theft crime wave,” July 24), copper thefts have damaged over 20,670 street lamps in the region since 2010.

Although the price of copper was $3.32 per pound at press time, selling copper to recycling plants is difficult, as the plants have been alerted by police to watch for copper thieves.

Holman said he feels lucky that this is the only major theft the school has experienced in his five years here, but disappointed the streak has been broken.

To combat future thefts, the school replaced the stolen wire with aluminum wire, which isn’t worth stealing, Holman said.

 

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