Copper cables were stolen from the Rockwood School District Administration Annex, 500 North Central Ave., between 11 p.m. May 30 and 12:30 a.m. May 31, Eureka Police reported.
As a result, the building was left without power, which was discovered at about 6 a.m. May 31, the district reported.
Fourteen 30-foot-long, two-inch copper cables that weighed an estimated 500 pounds were stolen after PVC piping was cut from an electric box in the yard east of the annex. Rockwood officials estimated the damage at $20,000 and valued the stolen copper at $1,200. The damage is covered by Rockwood’s insurance, according to the district.
There are three Rockwood buildings in the complex where the annex sits, with each having its own power source. While the power was out in the annex, the district used a generator to power the phone and internet system for the complex, said Chris Freund, Rockwood director of facilities.
Staff members were moved to the Individualized Learning Center, which is located next to the annex, Freund said.
He said power was restored to the annex at 10:30 p.m. May 31, and staff members were working out of the building Monday.
On Monday, Eureka Police Capt. David Wilson said a patrol car had driven through the annex’s parking lot about five minutes before the theft likely took place, but there was no footage on the car’s camera to indicate a possible suspect or suspects.
The annex is equipped with surveillance cameras, but there was no footage of the theft, Wilson said.
“This isn’t a typical copper theft,” Wilson said. “They have some expertise. We do have suspects we can look at, but it could be anybody. Someone could have gotten lucky and not electrocuted themselves, but it was most likely done by someone with construction knowledge.”
Wilson said it’s possible the theft could have been accomplished by one person who used a vehicle to pull out the wiring and cut it down as it came out of the tubing. He also said whoever stole the copper will likely try to sell it to a recycling center or scrap yard to be repurposed.
“It is possible this can be a group of people who travel across the country doing this,” Wilson said.