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Copper thief causes $25,000 in damage to TOP building

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, at 11:46 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 5:32 a.m.

A thief took a few hundred dollars’ worth of copper wire from a pair of new air-conditioning units on the roof of TOP Early Learning Center’s North campus earlier this week.

He stole Casey Lafferty’s peace of mind, too.

“It’s disappointing and it’s irritating, because of what we are and what we do,” said Lafferty, program director for the campus at 2330 N. Opportunity Drive, just northwest of 21st and Grove, which provides early childhood education for low-income families. “It’s kind of a violation.”

The crime was reported shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, Lt. Doug Nolte said. Someone got onto the roof of the early learning center’s building overnight and damaged the two targeted units so much that they will need to be replaced.

That will cost $25,000. The agency has insurance to cover the loss, Lafferty said, but it’s the second major insurance claim of the year. A hail storm hammered the campus so intensely earlier this year that all of the air conditioning units on the roof had to be replaced.

“We’re happy that no one was hurt and that it happened in the middle of the night,” Lafferty said of the copper theft. “We’re just moving forward.”

Police have told her there’s been a rash of copper thefts in the area over the past few weeks – including at homes, apartments and churches.

“We’ve taken some extra security measures” to better protect their air conditioning units, Lafferty said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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